Poetry of Love, Resistance, & Solidarity

Posts tagged ‘Jeff Worley’

The Death of Chang Eng – Jeff Worley

“Eng . . . continued to lie

there in a stupor

for an hour more. And then

he died.”

The Two: The Story of the Original Siamese Twins by Irving and Amy Wallace

When I ask William, How is your

Uncle Chang? he looks at the floor

and speaks through the mounting heat:

Uncle Chang is cold . . . Our eyes meet,

and he runs to find Adelaine, who let herself

be courted into this strange life,

took me and turned taboo to love.

I won’t look at Chang and won’t forgive

his rotgut whisky, squealing women

he took from behind, yang and yin

locked in lust, while I gazed at the dim

ceiling bulb, distracting myself, the women

again disappointed by my pocketed hands, my steelclad

resolution to stay limp. I ate

from the green garden, meat

never bled from my plate.

But I couldn’t stop him –profligate

of opium and spices—from drenching flank-steak

with fu-yung, chaing yu. Bones broke

under the knife his left hand wielded.

I’d have signed my name twenty times in blood

to end this coupling, the appendix

that connects us like a sword. Mix

of flesh and shadow, ego and other.

… Uncle Chang is dead. My brother,

what could I have said when William

told me this, my heart slowing? That I’m

forgiving you for all of it? I hated you

is the truth. Amazing: You never knew.

~ Jeff Worley

Previously published in Tampa Review

Jeff Worley, born and raised in Wichita, was the second graduate of the Wichita State MFA program (1975). He is extremely grateful to Bruce Cutler, founder of the program, for his invaluable help with early fledgling poems. Jeff has published numerous collections of poetry including, A Little Luck, winner of the 2012 X.J. Kennedy Poetry Prize from Texas Review Press. Now retired from the University of Kentucky, he and his wife, Linda, split their time between Lexington and their Cave Run Lake cabin.

November editor, Ronda Miller, is State President of the Kansas Authors Club (2018 – 2019). Her three books of poetry include Going Home: Poems from My Life, MoonStain (Meadowlark-Books, 2015) and WaterSigns (Meadowlark-Books, 2017). Miller lives in Lawrence but returns to wander The Arikaree Breaks of Cheyenne county every chance she gets. Kansas Authors Club.

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Insider Trading – Jeff Worley

Jeff-Worley

Jeff Worley

We lie together after good love,
passing from hand to hand
the currency of touch,
our mutual fund.
Though I’m spent I’m full
of a warm emptiness,
watching you scratch
behind an ear and stretch
like a well-endowed trust.
Oh preferred holding,
you make me rise
like a blue chip stock
in this joint merger–
the dividends from this
incorporation of flesh!
Legal tender, most tangible
asset, ours has never been
a stock exchange, this
timely profit-taking,
this sweet commerce.

~Jeff Worley

[first appeared in The Beloit Poetry Journal]

Jeff Worley, born and raised in Wichita, was the second graduate of the Wichita State MFA program (1975). He is extremely grateful to Bruce Cutler, founder of the program, for his invaluable help with early fledgling poems. Jeff has published 10 collections of poetry, the most recent, A Little Luck, winner of the 2012 X.J. Kennedy Poetry Prize from Texas Review Press. Now retired from the University of Kentucky, he and his wife, Linda, split their time between Lexington and their Cave Run Lake cabin.

Guest Editor Z. Hall is a poet whose work often features ekphrasis, and explores race, gender, and culture. She is an essayist and has served as a PEN Prison Writing Mentor. She was a 2016-17 writer-in-residence at the Charlotte Street Foundation. In 2017, Hall curated the first international visual art exhibition featuring beneficial bacterial as the subject matter and medium of artists of disparate disciplines and scientists whose work crosses boundaries into artistic expression.

As an art writer and scholar, Hall’s peer-reviewed publications include works on Beyoncé and Jay Z’s ‘Drunk in Love,’ the field recordings of Stephen Wade’s “The Beautiful Music All Around Us,” emergence of the Christian film industry in Lindvall and Quicke’s “Celluloid Sermons,” and the political cartoons of the 2005 Muhammad Cartoon Controversy as rhetorical art, among other works. Hall is the Executive Director and Producer of Salon~360, a monthly, Kansas City regional event that brings together artists whose work focuses on challenging societal issues, for which she was awarded an ArtsKC Inspiration Grant.

Wrap It Up!–by Jeff Worley

My mother would like to die now, please.
Her nursing home apartment is immaculate.
Friendly aides set hot meals in front of her
three times a day. Enough! So what!
She’s tired of their cheerier-than-thou
voices and those voices on television
trying to sell her on buying it, whatever
it is, however prettily wrapped.
TV light bathes her morning til night.
Then welcome sleep, an undress rehearsal
that never lasts long enough.
Awake again? The chattery girl asking
This top? These pants? And some slick
preacher “just stopping in,” wanting
her to donate her soul. My god.
It never ends. Which is all she wants.
And these framed photos grinning down
from the bookshelf, this innocent choir.
My mother knows what we’re thinking.
We want to keep her here. Children
she probably loved once, their own
disappointments just beyond the horizon . . .
Now, not knowing I can hear from the next room
she says, with conviction, What crap!

 

[First appeared in The Texas Review]

Jeff Worley, born and raised in Wichita, was the second graduate of the Wichita State MFA program (1975). He is extremely grateful to Bruce Cutler, founder of the program, for his invaluable help with early fledgling poems. Jeff has published 10 collections of poetry, the most recent, A Little Luck, winner of the 2012 X.J. Kennedy Poetry Prize from Texas Review Press. Now retired from the University of Kentucky, he and his wife, Linda, split their time between Lexington and their Cave Run Lake cabin.

Guest Editor Roy J. Beckemeyer is from Wichita, Kansas. His poetry book, Music I Once Could Dance To (Coal City Press, 2014) was a 2015 Kansas Notable Book. He recently co-edited Kansas Time+Place: An Anthology of Heartland Poetry (Little Balkans Press, 2017) together with Caryn Mirriam Goldberg. That anthology collected poems that appeared on this website from 2014-2016. His latest book, Amanuensis Angel (Spartan Press, 2018) contains ekphrastic poems, inspired by a variety of artists’ depictions of angels, that “resound and sometimes subvert expectations” (Tyler Robert Sheldon), that provide “a kaleidoscope of history, art, culture, the sacred and the everyday” (Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg).

Burnout – by Jeff Worley

 

was what the game was called,
the game of catch Dad and I played.
You stand 50 feet away at first

and throw the ball hard as you can
to your partner, your opponent. It’s
a dialectic of quick heat. You need

nerves like wrought iron, nimble
reflexes, a well-padded glove.
We had just argued at dinner,

black clouds flexing in the window.
My hair was too long and Dad
demanded to know what was in
the aromatic baggie
he turned up in my glove box.
It was 1969, and he invested

every ounce of righteous energy
he could muster in firing the ball
at me in the backyard. Tradition

thunked like a sledgehammer
into my mitt; then family,
the American Way. I hurled back

a dorsal-carpel-popping carpe diem,
Happy Hour haze, recreational sex.
At 40 feet he wound up like a man

with too many arms, and sent me
reeling on my heels, the ball a spike
in my blistering palm. So I smoked

the next one at his sweaty temple.
Steady job, Dad’s return sung out,
the webbing of my Jimmy Piersall

mitt snapping back but holding.
Hedonistic hijinx, I slung back.
Eight-to-five, Albert Camus, credit

rating, Mr. Zig Zag, Windsor knot . . .
With only 30 feet between us, Mother
intervened with two deep blue bowls

of chocolate chip ice cream.
We dropped our steaming gloves
in thick clover. It’s nearly dark, she said,

someone could get hurt in this game.

[ “Burnout” first appeared in Atlanta Review, Spring/Summer 2001, and was republished in the books Happy Hour at the Two Keys Tavern (Mid-List Press 2006) and Driving Late to the Party (Woodley Press 2012).]

Jeff Worley, born and raised in Wichita, was the second graduate of the Wichita State MFA program (1975). He is extremely grateful to Bruce Cutler, founder of the program, for his invaluable help with early fledgling poems. Jeff has published 10 collections of poetry, the most recent, A Little Luck, winner of the 2012 X.J. Kennedy Poetry Prize from Texas Review Press. Now retired from the University of Kentucky, he and his wife, Linda, split their time between Lexington and their Cave Run Lake cabin.

Guest Editor Roy J. Beckemeyer is President of the Kansas Authors Club. His poetry book, Music I Once Could Dance To (Coal City Press, 2014) was a 2015 Kansas Notable Book.

 

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