Poetry of Love, Resistance, & Solidarity

Posts tagged ‘Kathleen Cain’

Signs and Wonders — By Michael Lasater

From my window I count seven children,

all running in different directions.

Strangers materialize, walking straight

down the center of the street ––

roofers hammer out coded messages.


Down the block, someone slams a door,

startling birds into riotous, swirling flight.


Perhaps it was a sorcerer’s door,

a door of dreams, or time, or fate ––

a door through which, in another age,

the ancient, pitying gods might come

and go, speaking in riddles, setting

the stage again and again for the hero,

the applauded savior, the chosen.


Imagine such a door. Imagine such gods.

It’s nearly noon. Gravity takes hold.


Icarus, man-child deaf to his father

and betting all on wax and muscle,

soars overhead.

~ Michael Laster


Hutchinson native Michael Lasater is Professor of New Media at Indiana University South Bend. With degrees from Oberlin, Juilliard, and Syracuse University, he has performed with ensembles including the Metropolitan Opera, produced documentaries on poetry, and currently exhibits art video internationally. His poetry has appeared in Kansas Time + Place.


Guest Editor Maril Crabtree’s latest poetry collection, Fireflies in the Gathering Dark, is a 2018 Notable Kansas Book selection. In addition to three published chapbooks, her work has appeared in Canyon Voices, Main Street Rag, Coal City Review, I-70 Review, Earth’s Daughters, and others.

At the Table — by Kathleen Cain

—for Maya Angelou

We all claim some part of her-

memory word reflection.

And why not? She invited us all

to a place at the table. “Do you think”


she uncrossed her arms and asked,

allowing one of those deep pregnant

pauses to divide her words into rivers

of thought and feelings


“you are the only one to have suffered

the loss of love? Of a child? Or missed

the rent? Or gotten fired? Well…read

the Black poets and you won’t feel

so alone. Muted with pain, she

taught us how to sing. Constrained

by fire, she worked up steps to leap

across the flames and dance.

In all her words: a great heartbeat.


She was the voice of past. Present.

Future. How freedom could ring

in those syllables. How she could say

what we all need to hear. Brothers.

Sisters. In her name let’s scoot our

chairs a little closer to the table.

~ Kathleen Cain

Kathleen Cain is a native Nebraskan who has lived in Colorado since 1972. Her nonfiction book The Cottonwood Tree: An American Champion ( ) was selected for the Nebraska 150 Books Project. Two of her poems appeared in Nebraska Poetry:A Sesquicentennial Anthology 1867 -2017.

Guest Editor Annette Hope Billings is an award-winning author and actress whose dynamic style of reciting has led fans to dub her “Maya of the Midwest!” Her first book of poetry, A Net Full of Hope (2015), garnered the 2015 ARTSConnect ARTY Award in Literature in Topeka, Kansas. Descants for a Daughter followed in 2016 and serves as a collection of affirmations from a parent’s heart. Billings most recent publication is Just Shy of Stars (Spartan Press, 2018). Her poetry and short stories also appears in the following anthologies: Gimme Your Lunch Money: Heartland Poets Respond to Bullying (2016), Twisting Topeka (2016), Our Last Walk: Using Poetry for Grieving and Remembering Our Pets (2016), and Kansas Time + Place: An Anthology of Heartland Poetry (Balkans Press, 2017) and Revealed (2017). Billings’ poetry can also be found in both online and print publications including Inscape/Washburn University, Coal City Press, Microburst and Konza Magazine.

This is a prayer for a field. . . — by Kathleen Cain


on the high plains, descended from mountains and foothills.
This is a hymn for foothills, twenty miles upstream; an incantation for mountains both
shining and dark; navy blue; unearthly green.
This is Hosanna! for erosion and differential resistance
and disintegration stone by pebble by grain
in the wind. And the rain. In snow. And ice.
This is praisesong for freezing and cracking, an orison for Old Red Sandstone losing its grip.
This is a Kyrie for letting go: eleison of return, oxygen from leaves, plainsong of snowfall from blizzard clouds; speaking in tongues for run-off at snowmelt.
This is a mandala for creeks threading east and west,
a burnt offering for gravity—pilgrimage along the path of least resistance.
This is riparian adoration—for cottonwoods making their way one at a time, procession of ash and elm following; sycamore; currant bushes; forbs and grasses, bluestem and grama.
This is a charm for natural flooding along green rivers, brown streams, sunburned creeks.
This is a novena for trees accused of taking too much water after the dam has been built, the stream diverted, the irrigation allotment overspent in ever-widening circles of evaporation.
This is a rosary for roots holding earthen banks in their grip, a lorica for their leaved branches keeping the water cool—the catfish, the bullhead, the bass—for holding algae at bay.
This is an Alleleuia! for shade and shelter, for life breathed back into the world. Amen! Blessed Be! along the river, the creek, the stream, the field. . .


Kathleen Cain is a native Nebraskan who has lived in Colorado since 1972. Her nonfiction book The Cottonwood Tree: An American Champion (2007) was selected for the Nebraska 150 Books Project. Two of her poems appeared in Nebraska Poetry: A Sesquicentennial Anthology, 1867-2017.

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).

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