Day Is Done. Is Beginning.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              by Marjorie Maddox and photograph “Two Hearts” by Karen Elias

Evening grays into rest:
low light, cool earth; 
 
cushion of moss;
scent of clover or pine
 
that fastens the mind
to the living beneath,
 
around, or above
the expanding arc
 
of our hearts if only
we’d breathe in
 
the pulse and hum
of the land and the one
 
beside us now, reclining
like this on dirt that holds
 
and enfolds us in Earth’s
quiet comfort of calm,
 
this needed rhythm
of rest/rise/repeat singing 
 
us toward each day’s
shimmering season of sleep.



Two Hearts, Karen Elias (USA). Contemporary.
Marjorie Maddox

Marjorie Maddox, professor of English at Lock Haven University, has published 11 collections of poetry with 2 forthcoming in 2021, a short story collection; 4 children’s books.

Dr. Karen Elias taught college English for 40 years and is now an artist/activist, using photography to record the fragility of the natural world and raise awareness about climate change. Her work is in private collections, has been exhibited in several galleries, and has won numerous awards. Their collaborative book, Heart Speaks, Is Spoken For, is forthcoming from Shanti Arts.

Guest Editor Julie Ramon is an English instructor at Crowder College and SNHU. She graduated with an M.F.A from Spalding University in Louisville, Kentucky. She is currently working on two poetry chapbooks and serves as a co-director of Downtown Poetry, a Joplin, Missouri poetry series. She lives in Joplin with her husband, daughter, and sons.

When you undo the done                                                                                                                                                                                                                by Allison Blevins

you startle like a tall step, a red sign, a flashing light. Some unbecomes happen slowly—melting ice on granite, the swiftly turn of a hand lifting, bread fresh six days: how mold seems to rise rather than fall to rest and spread. Some unbecomes happen quickly as lace or thin surface water, frozen, scraped to curls. 
 
To unbecome your pain is to become pain, to warm bathe in short breath and the quick shallow beats of your stumbling heart and know every day the pain will come, the car drive away, the door shut, the lid close.

Allison Blevins is the author of the chapbooks Susurration (Blue Lyra Press, 2019), Letters to Joan (Lithic Press, 2019), and A Season for Speaking (Seven Kitchens Press, 2019). Her books Slowly/Suddenly (Vegetarian Alcoholic Press, 2021) and Cataloging Pain (YesYes Books, 2023) are forthcoming. Chorus for the Kill (Seven Kitchens Press 2021), her collaborative chapbook, is forthcoming. She is the Director of Small Harbor Publishing and a Poetry Editor at Literary Mama. She lives in Missouri with her spouse and three children where she co-organizes the Downtown Poetry reading series.

Guest Editor Julie Ramon is an English instructor at Crowder College and SNHU. She graduated with an M.F.A from Spalding University in Louisville, Kentucky. She is currently working on two poetry chapbooks and serves as a co-director of Downtown Poetry, a Joplin, Missouri poetry series. She lives in Joplin with her husband, daughter, and sons.

Eddie, the Mailman, the Moon                                                                                                                                                                                                                by Pat Daneman

Somewhere day and night 
are equal. Everywhere life and death are, 
though the tilting of the earth,
 
the number of its revolutions,
have nothing to do with it. I stare 
as long as I like at a cloud 
 
that torments the moon like a cobweb
over a face. I listen as the sun goes down
to Mozart, Brahms, Eddie, the boy next door
 
who thinks he is learning the drums.  
His father moved out before Christmas.  
His mother is making it up to him.  
 
Sticks on skin to obliterate his father’s face, 
the smell of his hair foul with cigarette smoke.  
It helps not at all with the acne on Eddie’s forehead,
 
how nobody sees him except to look away.
Yesterday I left a book on the roof of my car, 
got in and drove to the library to return it. 
 
The mailman distracted me—
get the mail now or when I come home?  
I will never see the book again.  
 
I never read it, just let it rest on the table 
next to my chair, set a sweating glass of 
vodka on it. No harm. The librarian
 
didn’t care, just locked my check away.
Somewhere she and Mozart are equal, 
Brahms and the mailman. But Eddie, 
 
he is above us all and rising 
on the foam of noise he has beaten
from equal parts of life and leaving.

 

Pat Daneman’s recent poetry appears in Atlanta Review, Freshwater, Bryant Literary Review, and Typehouse. Her collection, After All (FutureCycle Press 2018), was first runner-up, 2019 Thorpe-Menn Award and finalist, Hefner Heitz Kansas Book Award. She is author of a chapbook, Where the World Begins.

Guest Editor Julie Ramon is an English instructor at Crowder College and SNHU. She graduated with an M.F.A from Spalding University in Louisville, Kentucky. She is currently working on two poetry chapbooks and serves as a co-director of Downtown Poetry, a Joplin, Missouri poetry series. She lives in Joplin with her husband, daughter, and sons.

On the Day My Bridal Dress Goes to Goodwill                                                                                                                                                                                       by Shuly Xóchitl Cawood

I kept it twenty-two years in my childhood closet,
shoving it aside when I visited my parents
to make room for a purple hoodie, a long-sleeved
blue sweater, a pair of jeans
folded on a metal hanger. I wanted the dress
 
to go to someone young I would surely find
who could not yet afford a fancy frock,
who could not afford lace edgings
or capped sleeves, who could not afford
 
to divorce because surely someone else
would have better luck in that dress if I just found
the right person. But anyone knows that luck
 
is what you get when you stop looking, when you stumble
upon it on the far side of a thrift store rack
hanging there as if it has nowhere to go but home
 
with you, as if it’s been waiting all along,
tucked into a plastic bag that knows how to zip
up its secrets. Luck is almost the same
thing as hope, just a little less shiny,
a little less white.


Shuly Xóchitl Cawood is the author of The Going and Goodbye: a memoir and the story collection, A Small Thing to Want. Her poetry collection, Trouble Can Be So Beautiful at the Beginning, won the Adrienne Bond Award for Poetry.

Guest Editor Julie Ramon is an English instructor at Crowder College and SNHU. She graduated with an M.F.A from Spalding University in Louisville, Kentucky. She is currently working on two poetry chapbooks and serves as a co-director of Downtown Poetry, a Joplin, Missouri poetry series. She lives in Joplin with her husband, daughter, and sons.

Magic House — By Laura Madeline Wiseman

For every house on our block there’s a tree
bearing, fruiting the lane’s tract line.
If I could bake a muffin for every hand not open

in the wave of hello, I would never tell
how our nieces would knock on each door, for a cup
of brown sugar, an egg, or a teaspoon of soda

to borrow from cupboards everything they lacked,
when the berries for a pie and the cash required
for buying desserts burned faster as the months wore on,

where here, among the flailing middle class, puddings
are instant, fruit juices are ten percent, and cookies
come in plastic. Yes, the songbirds are common, but still

I savor every dark yard apple, juicy as summer,
purple fruit of shrub trees with star-shaped clusters
in the thousands. Every current of sweetness, each mouthful

sustains, overflowing paper cups hot from the oven.
I remember how our nieces stirred what they borrowed,
baked for her when she could not. He’s not home yet. I’ll wait.
From An Apparently Impossible Adventure (BlazeVOX [books] 2016).

First appeared in Illuminations, Vol. 17 2016.

~ Laura Madeline Wiseman


Laura Madeline Wiseman is the author of 25 books and chapbooks and the editor of Women Write Resistance, selected for the Nebraska 150 Booklist. Her collaborative book Intimates and Fools is a Nebraska Book Award 2015 Honor Book. Her latest book is Velocipede. She teaches at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Julie Ramon is an English instructor at NEO A&M in Miami, Oklahoma.  She graduated with an M.F.A from Spalding University in Louisville, Kentucky. Among writing, her interests include baking, sewing, traveling, and garage sales. She is also a co-organizer of a Joplin, Missouri poetry series, Downtown Poetry. She lives in Joplin with her husband, daughter, and sons.

Mercy. Daring. Courage — By Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg

I have three treasures which I hold and keep.

~ Tao Te Ching

I carry my treasures close to my skin.

I walk carefully and fast, pause to catch

the lightning. So much fire compressed

makes the visible even more visible.

To see this is to know mercy, and how

it tumbles shards of glass and stone

to reconfigure this day. To know mercy

is to know daring: every molecule of love

so delicate and damaged, willing as grass

to fly backwards at high speed while lightning

flashes the veins of the heavens. To know

daring is to know courage, how it’s equal parts

fear and will, rooted in the dense stillness

of the cottonwood banking the creek,

and the creek itself rounding the horizon

toward whatever comes, trials or treasures,

raining down to wake us up.

~ Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg

Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg, Ph.D., the 2009-13 Kansas Poet Laureate is the author of 23 books, including Miriam’s Well, a novel; Everyday Magic: A Field Guide to the Mundane and Miraculous, and Following the Curve, poetry. Her previous work includes The Divorce Girl, a novel; Needle in the Bone, a non-fiction book on the Holocaust; The Sky Begins At Your Feet, a bioregional memoir on cancer and community; and six poetry collections, including the award-winning Chasing Weather with photographer Stephen Locke. Founder of Transformative Language Arts at Goddard College, Mirriam-Goldberg also leads writing workshops widely. http://www.CarynMirriamGoldberg.com

Julie Ramon is an English instructor at NEO A&M in Miami, Oklahoma.  She graduated with an M.F.A from Spalding University in Louisville, Kentucky. Among writing, her interests include baking, sewing, traveling, and garage sales. She is also a co-organizer of a Joplin, Missouri poetry series, Downtown Poetry. She lives in Joplin with her husband, daughter, and sons.

 

Desserts — By Laura Lee Washburn

Cat lap blanket,

dog thigh warmer,

signs of beloved repose.

 

The house is so cold,

the cat indelicately chest leaps,

wakes the sleeping, signs

with paws to warm under their cover.

 

Anti-slavers promoted maple syrup;

sugaring trees was not the slave work

sugar lands ground and wrung.

 

For me, my Scotland wool 

and feet up couch, mind work

and animals cozied

over body, and reading love time.

 

Therefore, we’ll die now, white

women, but the others, too, again,

sugar fat, food 

and sitting sugar-blooded,

slow decline, hearts weakening,

vein-shrunk, forced American failures

~ Laura Lee Washburn

Laura Lee Washburn is the Director of Creative Writing at Pittsburg State University in Kansas, and the author of This Good Warm Place: 10th Anniversary Expanded Edition (March Street) and Watching the Contortionists (Palanquin Chapbook Prize).  Her poetry has appeared in such journals as TheNewVerse.News, Harbor Review, Carolina Quarterly, Ninth Letter, The Sun, Red Rock Review, and Valparaiso Review.  Born in Virginia Beach, Virginia, she has also lived and worked in Arizona and in Missouri.  She is married to the writer Roland Sodowsky and is one of the founders and the Co-President of the Board of SEK Women Helping Women.

Julie Ramon is an English instructor at NEO A&M in Miami, Oklahoma.  She graduated with an M.F.A from Spalding University in Louisville, Kentucky. Among writing, her interests include baking, sewing, traveling, and garage sales. She is also a co-organizer of a Joplin, Missouri poetry series, Downtown Poetry. She lives in Joplin with her husband, daughter, and sons.

Cooked Wheat — By Roland Sodowsky

It was a tough winter that year when, 

shortly after Christmas, our mother 

served us seed wheat, that is, some of the grain 

reserved to plant the next year’s crop. 

I don’t know how long she had to boil it 

to make it edible served hot with whole milk— 

yes, we had milk cows that I was old enough 

to help milk, not to my joy—with 

a bit of  sugar. We boys ate it, 

knew better than to grumble.  Maybe it  

was good for us—whole grain, and so forth. 

I haven’t had any desire to eat 

it again since then:  not even once, 

not even when I was in Africa, 

homesick for almost anything stateside. 

~ Roland Sodowsky

Roland Sodowsky grew up on a small ranch in western Oklahoma.  He has three degrees from Oklahoma State University and studied Old High German as a Fulbright Scholar in Germany.  He has taught linguistics, literature, and creative writing at OSU, the University of Calabar in Nigeria, the University of Texas, Sul Ross State University, and Missouri State University. He has published poetry, short stories, or novellas in Atlantic Monthly, American Literary Review, Glimmer Train, Midwest Quarterly, and many other literary magazines.  His collection of short stories, Things We Lose (U. Missouri Pr), won the Associated Writing Programs’ Award for Short Fiction.  He received the National Cowboy Hall of Fame Short Fiction Award for Interim in the Desert (TCU Pr), the Coordinating Council of Literary Magazines-General Electric Award for fiction, and has been a recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts award.  Now retired from Missouri State, he and his wife, the poet Laura Lee Washburn, live in Pittsburg, Kansas when he, his brother, and his son are not engaged in a continuing battle with the mesquites and cedars on their family homestead.

Julie Ramon is an English instructor at NEO A&M in Miami, Oklahoma.  She graduated with an M.F.A from Spalding University in Louisville, Kentucky. Among writing, her interests include baking, sewing, traveling, and garage sales. She is also a co-organizer of a Joplin, Missouri poetry series, Downtown Poetry. She lives in Joplin with her husband, daughter, and sons.

 

Kansas Cradle — By Morgan O.H. McCune

I came home to find myself

among friends again–the land

rolling beneath me, rivers ferrying

my hope with a soft murmur–

meadowlark, sweet clover,

a hare and her leverets under

per aspera stars cuddling close.

 

Found now dissembling little boys

rule here, stomp and tell the girls

what clothes to wear, what we should

bear. We hopscotch, the boys watching

our legs hop wide, then together.

Our hearts can stop on command.

 

Little boys, I was born here

with the hare and the red fox.

My mother, sharp as bluestem blades,

bore me, taught me Red rover,

to call Red rover over the hills,

taught me to shake my cradle.

The stopped heart of a hare

has again begun to beat.

~ Morgan O. H. McCune

Morgan O.H. McCune currently works at Pittsburg State University in southeast Kansas. She is a native Kansan, and holds an M.F.A. in Poetry from Washington University in St. Louis (1991) and an M.L.S. from Emporia State University (2002). Her poems have been published previously in River Styx.

Julie Ramon is an English instructor at NEO A&M in Miami, Oklahoma.  She graduated with an M.F.A from Spalding University in Louisville, Kentucky. Among writing, her interests include baking, sewing, traveling, and garage sales. She is also a co-organizer of a Joplin, Missouri poetry series, Downtown Poetry. She lives in Joplin with her husband, daughter, and sons.

Loss by Julie Ramon

When it grew too heavy to carry,                                                       Julieramon.jpg
it filled the bottle trees in Kansas.
Then, it roamed across a burning field
in plumes of smoke with tired feet.
Like coals, it kept burning and hummed
a glow through the night. This was the quickest
and easiest way to lose. In the morning,
the smoke clung to your bandages and hair

as you walked alone outside, black stubble
at your feet. Like a bell, it called out for you
through the dark valley and echoed in your
ears—a sound that never stops, but fades.

 

Julie Ramon is an English instructor at NEO A&M in Miami, Oklahoma.  She graduated with an M.F.A from Spalding University in Louisville, Kentucky. Among writing, her interests include baking, sewing, traveling, and garage sales. She is also a co-organizer of a poetry series, Downtown Poetry. She lives in Joplin, Missouri with her husband, son, and daughter.

Guest Editor Laura Lee Washburn is a University Professor, the Director of Creative Writing at Pittsburg State University in Kansas, and the author of This Good Warm Place: 10thAnniversary Expanded Edition (March Street) and Watching the Contortionists (Palanquin Chapbook Prize).  Her poetry has appeared in such journals as Cavalier Literary Couture, Carolina Quarterly, Ninth Letter, The Sun, Red Rock Review, and Valparaiso Review.  Born in Virginia Beach, Virginia, she has also lived and worked in Arizona and in Missouri.  She is married to the writer Roland Sodowsky and is one of the founders and the Co-President of the Board of SEK Women Helping Women.