Poetry of Love, Resistance, & Solidarity

Posts tagged ‘Laura Lee Washburn’

Great American Nostalgia Train — by Laura Lee Washburn

All the places we grew up have changed.

In California, you can’t get into a restaurant.

Your Virginia Beach is guarded

by four story parking garages,

and your childhood bike is still missing or stolen.

 

Here in Kansas, we aren’t expecting

East and West coast overflows any time soon—

though we have room. If they came,

we would welcome their Grocery offering fresh made sushi,

their deli counter mustards, in-store olive bars,

the good kind of sesame buns, but we go now

 

into our Walstores for a pint or a script,

not noticing the silences and absences,

the way it might appear the benevolent aliens

have finally come and opened a gateway for half

our children and folk to ascend,

leaving us not lonesome not crowded.

 

The abducted folk might have gone through the gateway

into our short pasts, the remembered simple,

rather than our futures. They might have found

egg salad in wax paper and frankfurters turning

on Ferris wheel spits, the lady at the counter

crushing limes into ade and paper straws. I have

a simple list of where America went wrong:

 

We took down the two hundred foot dunes,

dunes taller than forest. We

filled in the swamp and the wetlands for the navy,

believed too hard in plastics, dismantled

the public works, sent the photographers home,

gave the police armored machines. My list

keeps getting longer. America,

 

we took a wrong turn in 1838—no—when Adams

signed the Indian Springs—No, no Monroe,

as long as the grass shall grow, with the big lies,

with tobacco, with the Dutch and the Spanish—

Oh Europe, with your fine cafes, your clotted cream,

your tea, your coffee, pain au chocolate, what,

just what have you done?

~ 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, 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.

Guest editor Dennis Etzel Jr. lives with Carrie and the boys in Topeka, Kansas where he teaches English at Washburn University. He has two chapbooks, The Sum of Two Mothers (ELJ Publications 2013) and My Graphic Novel (Kattywompus Press 2015), a poetic memoir My Secret Wars of 1984 (BlazeVOX 2015), and Fast-Food Sonnets (Coal City Review Press 2016).

Citizens — By Laura Lee Washburn

My dog looks a little bit like a fox.

He would like to skulk alone

with no other fox—or dog. His

ears and pointy face and bushy tail.

He does not walk on his toes.

We leave that to the actual cat.
I have learned the fox wants prey

that doesn’t fight back. My dog

runs to the crate after chasing

the cat, a four foot race before turning

back to his safe crate den home shake.
I have watched a fox from the window

scratch at his fleas like an ill-treated dog.

By grace we live in the world

where a squirrel travels under the branch

where we see the birds scatter in leaves.
We find our home in grass and flowers.

We find our home in the trunks and needles.

The rich earth loams up to our noses.

The cut grass surrounds the brain.
I live in a house with nut trees at the window,

with goldfinch hanging at sweet gum balls

where the owl can be heard and the sparrows call.

My dog looks a bit like a fox. My cat

curls up at my leg. They make curves

of warmth alert in ears. We could all be

so human if we never remembered the news.

~ 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, 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.

Guest Editor Lori Baker Martin is assistant professor of English at Pittsburg State University. She’s had both poetry and fiction published in magazines like Prick of the Spindle, The MacGuffin, (parenthetical), The Little Balkans Review, Maine Review, Room Magazine, Grass Limb, The Knicknackery, words (on pages), Midwest Quarterly, Kansas Time + Place, and in 150 Kansas Poets.  Martin has taught creative writing at the University of Iowa, Independence Community College, and Pittsburg State University. She has worked as a reader for both The Iowa Review and NPR. She is a founding member of the Astra Arts Festival in Independence, KS and was director of the visiting writers’ series at ICC. Martin has been awarded for her work in The Cincinnati Review and Kansas Voices.  She is a graduate of Iowa Writer’s Workshop.

On Being Asked for a Political Poem – by Christopher Todd Anderson

chris

My eyes drift across Kansas, its drab winter fields

and bird-churned skies, its highways like frozen

gray rivers, its oak trees clutching brown shawls

of dead unfallen leaves, a rough threadbare comfort.

 

I could stand at my window all day and watch clouds

grazing sky like white bison in a blue meadow. I could

stand at my window all day drinking hot tea. Gazing

is the only thing I’m really good at. I could do it all day.

 

Yesterday I had lunch with Laura, who keeps quoting

Rukeyser on poets of outrage and poets of possibility.

Honestly, I never know where I stand with my poems

full of raptors and wine, empty fields, black morning

 

coffee, and barn cats gagging up something killed

for hunger. Lunch was good, and my belly’s full

of sunshine, but the new year’s colder than ever

as statesmen swear their oaths with their left palms

flat atop piles of money and raised right hands poised

to bitch-slap America. I’ve got nothing to say to make

things better. Tomorrow, trees will still march through

poems like buckskin priests praising the sun, and gods

 

will roost on power lines, then glory in flight. But now

every word is on fire, every blackbird and maple leaf is

a red ember. Sing your children to sleep, sing, for worlds

are burning as we stir anger like sour milk into our coffee.

 

 

Christopher Todd Anderson is Associate Professor of English at Pittsburg State University in Kansas, where he teaches courses in American literature, creative writing, environmental literature, and popular culture.  His poetry has appeared in journals such as River StyxTar River PoetryEllipsisChicago Quarterly ReviewTipton Poetry Journal, and The Midwest Quarterly.

 

Guest Editor 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, 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

 

Six Years – by Joshua Davis

j-davis-for-heartland-submissionsMy harum-scarum, my break-neck, my three-boys-in-one-night   My orphan, my royal flush   My starry net, my copper fresco, my coat of red felt my afternoon vicodin,   my hot air balloon, my Carnegie Hall comeback   Today   tonight   I know this: (the way I know the bone music, the first sentence of Jane Eyre, and the words of the spell to release us cord shadow water black blue): you were mine   you were mine down to the glimmer  before  before I spoke my first word, daddy.

 

Joshua Davis holds MFAs from the University of Southern Maine and from the University of Mississippi. He earned an M.A. in English with an Emphasis in Creative Writing at Pittsburg State University. Recent poems have appeared in The Midwest Quarterly, Monster Verse, and Measure for Measure: An Anthology of Poetic Meters.

Guest Editor 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 The New Verse News, 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.

At Forty-Eight and Twenty Five Days by Laura Lee Washburn

I go to a party at which pumpkins are optional.Photo on 2010-07-13 at 11.40 #3 (1)

I don’t bring a pumpkin. I sit in a corner

next to a cat that looks remarkably like the host.

The cat refuses to acknowledge me.

Outside, the host carves a pumpkin. I think,

It is too cold. Later I get hot standing

by an open window near the crock pot chili.

I remove my angora scarf. I stuff it in my pocket.

All day I have had a terrific knot

of pain where my neck and shoulder connect.

The word radiate comes to mind when I think

of my arm also hurting all day. I don’t know why.

At the party, we decide I am not having a heart

attack. After eating a Pillsbury biscuit

“sopapilla” dessert, two squares, I tell stories

in which I am a benign villain. The people laugh.

They have been waiting to laugh for a while.

Most of them did not bring optional pumpkins

either. We have been talking about feline diet,

which I did not bring up, but which is

one of my safe subjects. Later, before

the conversation turns to brain cancer—brain cancer

is not one of my safe subjects—I explain

teasing my excitable mother about the brown coat

my dad got me hand-me-down, but paid for, from

some guy at work and swore it wasn’t a boy’s coat

(unisex was vogue anyway), but I was twelve

with an Edie Adams salon mutilated Hamill (think wedge)

and waitresses thought I was a boy and old men

followed me into restrooms—well just once—

so why I asked my mom, why, why, did you make me

wear that brown coat?

Someone’s going to Finland

on a Fulbright. I listen for a while, pull the scarf

out of my pocket and go outside

where three pumpkins glow happily, each

having taken the permanent attitude of bemused hilarity.

~ 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 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.

Cody Shrum holds both a B.A. and M.A. in Creative Writing from Pittsburg State University with an emphasis in fiction. However, his poetry has appeared in velvet-tail and Kansas Time + Place online literary magazines. Cody plans to pursue his MFA degree in fiction next fall—an adventure he will embark on with his wife, Kylee, and their two dogs, Zoey and Zeus.

Sixteen by Laura Lee Washburn

The tramping van made me woman enough.Photo on 2010-07-13 at 11.40 #3 (1)

Carburetor, clutch, hub, window guide, crank

pulley roused me before I knew the other words

of womanhood: snake, bend, flood stop, drop elbow

universal flapper, male and female fittings.

Coming back from the feed lot,

Dad stopped quick for the hippy van,

bread truck, whatever it had been.

We painted it primer black for a mural.

I tossed a mattress in back for a home

on the way to quest. Nothing turns out

how you plan. I should’ve learned body

repair, how to press the smash out of a door,

how to fire glass back to a pane, how loving

sometimes calls you out of your dreams,

how it follows you, even into the prairie grass

bent in November’s sullen winds.

~ 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 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.


Al Ortolani’s poetry and reviews have appeared in journals such as Prairie Schooner, New Letters, Word Riot, and the New York Quarterly. His fifth collection of poems, Waving Mustard in Surrender, was released in 2014 from New York Quarterly Books. Currently, he is teaching English in the Blue Valley School District and serves on the Board of Directors of the Kansas City Writers Place.

Occasions of Laughter and Horror and Pride by Laura Lee Washburn

When you stand under a tall straight cedar in DecemberPhoto on 2010-09-14 at 00.39 #6

and the red-tailed hawk flies smacking out of the branches

above you and lights on the bare tree where you watch it

and think about proximity and predatory excellence

 

or February when you hear the glass tinkling breaking of ice

leaping branch to branch down and lift your face up

toward the blue sky to watch the sparkle

 

and when your red snow boots sparkle in the melt,

 

splash

then the shard glances off your nose not leaving a mark

then the thunk of half a squirrel, bloody mess

on browned grass.

 

The hawk waits for you to leave. The ice shakes down.

The slush melts into icy water. Backyard daffodils thaw toward bloom.

 

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 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.

Lori Baker Martin is Kansas Time + Place editor for the month of May. She lives and works in Southeast Kansas where she is  teaching English at Independence Community College. She’s had both poetry and fiction published in magazines like Prick of the Spindle, The MacGuffin,  The Little Balkans Review,Room Magazine, Grass Limb, The Knicknackery, Midwest Quarterly, Kansas Time + Place, 150 Kansas Poets, and in a Kansas Notable Book poetry collection To the Stars Through Difficulties. She’sbeen awarded for her work in The Cincinnati Review and Kansas Voices.  Martin is a graduate of Iowa Writer’s Workshop where she was named a Truman Capote Fellow and received the Clark Fischer Ansley Award for Excellence in Fiction.

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