Scavangers by Kelly W. Johnston

Dawn releases creatures afraid of the dark,

looks for others along borders in shadow.

Night retreats, dreams dissipate

with mist rising from the lake.

Crows hurry from the sun

like ideas cast out by Enlightenment.

There is safety in numbers

even among the exiled.

Vultures patrol a higher plane,

marking subsets of acreage below,

assessing flight paths of each crow

for purpose, discovery, sustenance –

to be first to the prize.

Vultures see me

as a blip on radar, wonder

when I will become carrion,

whether coyotes will compete

for my bones.

~ Kelly W. Johnst

Kelly Johnston is a life-long Kansan, who was born in Lawrence in 1955. After graduating from law school in 1979, he put his poetry on the back burner after majoring in creative writing as an undergrad at WSU. About 5 years ago, Kelly began writing again, and in 2011 his poem, “House Sitter”, won 1st place in the Kansas Writers Asso. Poetry contest. In 2014, his poem, “Landmarks”, won 2nd place in the Kansas Authors Club Poetry contest, narrative verse category. And just recently, his poem, “Trails”, won 1st place in the Kansas Authors Club District 5 Poetry contest. Kelly still practices law, but also loves to spend time on his land in the Chautauqua Hills near Cross Timbers State Park, where most of his poetry is inspired.

Guest editor Eric McHenry’s new book of poems, Odd Evening, will be published by Waywiser Press in 2016. His previous collections include Potscrubber Lullabies, which won the Kate Tufts Discovery Award in 2007, and Mommy Daddy Evan Sage, a children’s book illustrated by Nicholas Garland. He also edited and introduced Peggy of the Flint Hills, a memoir by Zula Bennington Greene. His poems have appeared in The New Republic, Yale Review, Cincinnati Review, Field, Orion, The Guardian (U.K.), Poetry Daily and Poetry Northwest, from whom he received the 2010 Theodore Roethke Prize. Since 2001, he has been a poetry critic for The New York Times Book Review. He lives in Lawrence with his wife and two children and teaches creative writing at Washburn University.