Poetry of Love, Resistance, & Solidarity

Posts tagged ‘Kelly W. Johnston’

A Farmer’s Son, Age 11, Plows 6 Acres – 4 p.m. by Greg German

Blunt as horse’s breath,GGeman 270px

heat, boiler room hot

laced with diesel smoke,

wraps off the tractor’s engine

and hones the child

from his face. Dust,

settled onto his bare back,

is squeezed into his shoulders

by a fat-bellied sun. Tasteless

now, the water warm, his jug

half empty, everything

is against him; rain clouds

are nowhere. The land evolves

into a battlefield, the plow

a dictator. Each shrunken

round becomes larger

than the last; each minute

is an hour. Red-tail hawks, kites

suspended in the wind, rotate

across a prairie-sized sky.

Introduced to endless,

the farmer’s son is angry,

sacrificed by his father,

taken by the land.

~ Greg German

Previously Published in Wind, 1998, Fall, # 81/82

Greg German was born and raised near Glen Elder, in north central Kansas, where he farmed with his family for many years. He currently lives in Kansas City, Kansas, with his wife Regina and son, Alden. He is a private consultant specializing in technical communication, web site development, free-lance writing and photography. He holds a B.A. degree in English/Creative writing and a B.S. in Education from Kansas State University. Previously, Greg has taught high school English and, creative writing at both the high school and college levels. He also developed and maintains www.kansaspoets.com — a website unique to Kansas Poets. Greg’s poetry and personal essays have appeared in over 50 literary journals across the U.S.

Kelly W. Johnston, guest editor, is a life-long Kansan, who was born in Lawrence in 1955, and graduated from Wichita State in 1977 with a major in creative writing. He has published poems in Mikrokosmos, The Cottonwood Review, and The Ark River Review. He will publish two poems in the up-coming 2016 issue of The I-70 Review. Kelly loves to spend time on his land in the Chautauqua Hills near Cross Timbers State Park, where many of his poems are inspired.

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Evening Grazing by Doc Arnett

I work my way along the fence
on the east side of the pasture
where mulberry and pigweeds
keep pressing their needs
against the line of the wires
that set the boundary of grass and grazing.
Unclipped, their green stalks
would short the circuit that is meant
to keep the horse from pressing his way
through the course of wires into the longer grass
that is just past the reach
of twisted neck, extended head.
He could easily run right through
the weave of thin strands of extruded plastic
and micro-thin strands of conductor
that carry the current from solar charger
to the circuit of the field.
But the gelding has generally agreed
to forego free will
and spare himself that momentary pain
that would gain him greater range,
which would also include the highway
only a few seconds away
where pickup trucks with flatbed trailers
and semi’s fully loaded
run by at seventy-miles-an-hour.

He stands near the short silhouette of a scrub oak tree,
sleek hide burnished by evening sun,
tail and mane training toward the north,
soft blades of bluegrass and brome
hanging out both sides of his mouth.

~ Doc Arnett

Doc Arnett teaches Creative Writing and directs Institutional Research at the oldest college in Kansas, Highland Community College. He and his wife of twenty-five years, Randa, live in Doniphan, Kansas. A Kentucky native, Doc enjoys writing, singing, remodeling and watching Randa enjoy her Rocky Mountain Horse, Gospel Ryder’s Lil Journey.


Kelly W. Johnston, guest editor, is a life-long Kansan, who was born in Lawrence in 1955, and graduated from Wichita State in 1977 with a major in creative writing. He has published poems in
Mikrokosmos, The Cottonwood Review, and The Ark River Review. He will publish two poems in the up-coming 2016 issue of The I-70 Review. Kelly loves to spend time on his land in the Chautauqua Hills near Cross Timbers State Park, where many of his poems are inspired.

Prairie Swimmer by Thomas Reynolds

Womb05_10_1

In pulsings of

Amniotic waves, she kicked in place,

Flipping fins with digits extended.

 

Turtle

Belly down on blue-green

Seaweed tangles of the living room floor,

Like an upturned turtle,

She waited for the tide

To carry her to the sea.

 

River

She points to the rock shaped like a platform

at the promontory tip and lowers goggles

over spot-flecked skin,

above goldfish eyes.

Frog-like, she leaps.

 

Winter

Walking the fencerow over frozen ground,

She tests her arms against the March wind,

One over the other

In a tight front crawl,

Racing for the gate.

 

Meet

Under the surface she becomes

Like the rest something other, a creature

Who senses some ancient tug

In the cells of her hands,

In her lungs.

 

Body

Her body is 70 percent water.

She is a small, compact lake

into which swimmers dive from a bluff

and do laps around the thirty percent island

guarded by a chain-link fence.

 

Prairie

After a swim in the creek,

Running in lush grass cresting above her head

White-capped by wind,

She leaps above waves

as if lunging for air

Before diving below again.

 

Sea

She paddles in a pond

Surrounded by rolling hills,

Once the bed of an ancient inland sea.

In mist, ghost fish

glide above her.

 

Pond

Tethys, Greek goddess of earth’s fresh waters,

Was mother to three thousand daughters.

One now wades ashore

From the blinding surface,

Returning to this life.

~ Thomas Reynolds

Thomas Reynolds is an associate English professor at Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, Kansas, and has published poems in various print and online journals, including New Delta Review, Alabama Literary Review, Aethlon-The Journal of Sport Literature, The MacGuffin, Flint Hills Review, and Prairie Poetry. Woodley Press of Washburn University published his poetry collection Ghost Town Almanac in 2008. His chapbook The Kansas Hermit Poems was published in 2013.

Kelly W. Johnston, guest editor, is a life-long Kansan, who was born in Lawrence in 1955, and graduated from Wichita State in 1977 with a major in creative writing. He has published poems in Mikrokosmos, The Cottonwood Review, and The Ark River Review. He will publish two poems in the up-coming 2016 issue of The I-70 Review. Kelly loves to spend time on his land in the Chautauqua Hills near Cross Timbers State Park, where many of his poems are inspired.

A Harvest of Hearts by Pat Latta

A freezing March wind ravaged the plainsPat Latta
Her daddy worried about
the calves
the wheat
the tractor

Her mama worried about her only daughter

A daughter who saw his eyes
in the blue March sky
His sunburned back
in the sunrise
His name in every book she read

She waited for June
and the harvest crew
when he and his cousin and brother
moved north from Texas

Maybe she could bring iced tea
to the crew
Maybe she would touch his hand
Oh Mama, please?

March is cold
on the Kansas plains
And lonely

~ Pat Latta

Pat Latta grew up in a small town in central Texas.  He moved to Wichita in 1983 and lives close to the Little Arkansas River.  He writes with a weekly poetry group.  He appreciates the power of individual words in poetry and strives to express ideas as concisely as possible.

Guest Editor Kelly W. Johnston is a life-long Kansan, who was born in Lawrence in 1955, and graduated from Wichita State in 1977 with a major in creative writing. He has published poems in Mikrokosmos, The Cottonwood Review, and The Ark River Review. He will publish two poems in the up-coming 2016 issue of The I-70 Review. Kelly loves to spend time on his land in the Chautauqua Hills near Cross Timbers State Park, where many of his poems are inspired.

On the Edge by Kelly W. Johnston

Shivering in crystalline air,

I watch the edge of day creep

east over the Verdigris valley,

expose bone-white pleading arms

of barren birch and sycamore,

listen to the muster call of crow

scouts, search for prey unseen

overnight by owls and coyotes.

 

Molding hands around coffee,

I watch juncos in the road cut

move like a murmur, listen

to mourning doves who let

geese fly south alone,

smell smoke of a range fire

flowing north over far ridge –

gray hair blowing in wind.

 

I must wait for hesitant redbuds

to surge with sap into sun,

 

fight the fire from growing old,

hope to avoid winter

taking me for the boneyard.

~ Kelly W. Johnston

Kelly W. 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.

Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg, guest editor for Dec., is the 2009-13 Kansas Poet Laureate, author or editor of 19 books, and founder of Transformative Language Arts at Goddard College, where she teaches. More on her here.

Going Home to Stay by Kelly W. Johnston

In the fog of a warm December dawn,Johnston

a lone crow beckons from a cottonwood.

The rest of the murder remains quiet.

The hum of the highway,

grind of the gears I have left behind.

I wish to be alone.

 

Leave me to the north wind

to probe like a knife for weakness.

Leave me to crows and coyotes

to pick and tear at my flesh.

Leave me to the snow

to bury my bones til spring.

 

I will live in the sap of oak trees

that will rise and push out old leaves.

I will live in the blooms of bluets,

in V-flights circling over the lake,

in the gobble of a local tom,

in rainfall coursing to the Verdigris.

I am here to stay.

~Kelly W. Johnston

Kelly Johnston, a life-long Kansan, was born in Lawrence in 1955. He has published poems in Mikrokosmos (most recently, “Landmarks” was published in the 2015 issue), The Cottonwood Review, and The Ark River Review. His poem, “Trails,” won first place in the Kansas Authors Club District 5 Poetry contest. His poem, “House Sitter,” won first place in the 2011 Kansas Writers Association Poetry contest. Kelly loves to spend time on his land in the Chautauqua Hills near Cross Timbers State Park, where most of his poetry is inspired.Johnston

Stephen Meats, recently retired from teaching and administration at Pittsburg State University, is the author of a mixed genre collection of poems and stories, Dark Dove Descending and Other Parables (Mammoth Publications, 2013) and a collection of poems, Looking for the Pale Eagle (Woodley Press, 1993; expanded edition, Mammoth Publications, 2014). His poems, stories, and scholarly writings have appeared in numerous print and online publications, including more than two dozen articles on Whitman, Faulkner, and other writers in The Literary Encyclopedia. He has been poetry editor of The Midwest Quarterly since 1985. For his guest editorship, in addition to poems with Kansas associations, he asked contributors to submit work dealing with shore birds and water birds, if moved to do so, in recognition of his and his wife Ann’s recent move to Florida.

Wishes on an August Evening at Milford by Kelly W. Johnston

Heavy heat of the day escapes

on stiff winds across the lake.

Wish-laden catfish lines, like sirens,

draw me away from campfire,

wine, and your whispers.

 

You stand ashore alone,

lantern held high as I push off.

While rowing, you fade

to a lighthouse on a bleak coast.

 

My flashlight finally finds

a tenuous streak of limp line.

Grasping for dreams,

line trembles, tightens

and the lake is fighting back,

bouncing the bow of the boat,

spraying my face with froth.

Dark, churning depths stretch

line toward nightmare.

 

Until the catfish is netted.

A wet grin crosses my face

as I remember your light

beckoning my return.

~ Kelly W. Johnston

Thomas Reynolds is an associate English professor at Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, Kansas, and has published poems in various print and online journals, including New Delta Review, Alabama Literary Review, Aethlon-The Journal of Sport Literature, Sport Literate, The MacGuffin, Flint Hills Review, and Prairie Poetry. Woodley Press of Washburn University published his poetry collection Ghost Town Almanac in 2008. His chapbook The Kansas Hermit Poems was published in 2013. His work has received two Pushcart Prize nominations.

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