Poetry of Kansas Here & Now, There & Then

Posts tagged ‘Maril Crabtree’

Special Weather Statement, Johnson County, Kansas by Pat Daneman

10885210_10203995076012065_23950373450041338_n  —Watches and warnings issued. Plains threatened by devastating storms.  (weather.com)

Quick. Open the door. There—in the east—

across the tired grass with its small continents of unmelted snow,

beyond the fence your neighbor built (spoiling late summer evenings

with 70s hard rock and cursing),

on the other side of the lead work tracery of branches—

the sky is pink this morning—an astounding paintbrush pink

that Georgia O’Keefe would have followed out of the desert,

an opera pink—the flush across the top of the soprano’s breasts.

 

And above the pink a blue purer than birth—

that moment of the healthy cry, nothing but hope and possibility.

The blue of standing in a rainstorm, wet denim loving your skin,

the blue of creaking sails nuzzling the horizon, porpoise wheels turning.

 

Today will not bring rain or wind or snow, but sun

and happiness and insanity and desire—a whole mute sky of it.

Look—a pair of cardinals is out there on a branch calling—come

closer, closer.

~ Pat Daneman

Pat Daneman has lived in Lenexa, Kansas since 1986. Recent work appears in Escape Into Life, The Moon City Review, I-70 Review, Bellevue Poetry Review, and The Comstock Review. Her chapbook, Where the World Begins, was published in 2015 by Finishing Line Press.

Maril Crabtree spent her childhood in Memphis and grew up in New Orleans, but married a Kansas boy five decades ago and considers herself a full-bred Kansan by now. She writes poetry and creative nonfiction and her poems have appeared in I-70 Review, DMQ Review, Spank the Carp, and others. Her latest chapbook is Tying the Light (2014); some of her poems can be seen at www.marilcrabtree.com

Magic Hour by Frank Higgins

Snobs everywhere make fun of this landscape,

but while driving up Highway 59 I see the light.

When the light of the late day becomes magic hour

wheat fields shimmer; grain elevators glow.

Monet, Van Gogh: they’d go for this big time.

But what do Impressionistic eyes really see?

 

Coming into Moran there’s a sun-bleached sign by the road:

HOME OF DEBBIE BARNES, MISS AMERICA 1968.

One person who saw this sign

was a basketball star for Ottawa College

who’d drive to Kansas University in Lawrence

and over one spring rape seven women,

all as beautiful as Miss America.

He drove this road, at this time, in this light.

 

Did his imagination do anything with this landscape?

Why couldn’t beauty better him?

Touch him? Uplift him? Stop him?

Or did beauty drive him to grab hold of it before –

like the light of magic hour – it faded?

I drive to Lawrence in heavenly light and wonder

if something like him is part of every landscape.

Frank Higgins is both a playwright and poet. His play Black Pearl Sings has been one of the most produced in the country over the last few years. His books of poetry include Starting From Ellis Island, Bkmk Press. He teaches playwriting at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

Maril Crabtree spent her childhood in Memphis and grew up in New Orleans, but married a Kansas boy five decades ago and considers herself a full-bred Kansan by now. She writes poetry and creative nonfiction and her poems have appeared in I-70 Review, DMQ Review, Spank the Carp, and others. Her latest chapbook is Tying the Light (2014); some of her poems can be seen at www.marilcrabtree.com

Bits and Pieces by Arlin Buyert

image001I hear our John Deere tractor,

feel sister Berdie’s hand wash my back,

 

hear echoes of the northbound train,

smell Dad’s bib overalls,

 

hear Tippie bark at the egg man,

see Grandpa walk the cows,

 

hear pigeons coo in the cupola,

feel the bite of winter’s wind,

 

hear Mom sing a Dutch psalm,

taste dust on my lips.

 

Corn crib, tool shed, chicken coop,

hog house, apple orchard, rose garden,

 

water pump, willow tree, windmill –

gone.

 

I walk the old farm,

a barren black-earth story and find

 

a ceramic chip from a plate,

a rusted iron gear, and a broken cup

 

askance in dirt, lost souls waiting.

~ Arlin Buyert

Arlin Buyert was born and raised on an Iowa farm and educated at Macalester College and The University of Minnesota. He has published three books of poetry and his most recent book Oh Say Can You See was a Thorpe Menn Award finalist in 2015. He has also edited two anthologies of inmate poetry entitled Open to the Sky, Volumes 1 and 2). His poems have been published in the Rockhurst Review, Coal City Review, and others. Arlin lives in Leawood, Kansas with his wife Kris Kvam.

Maril Crabtree spent her childhood in Memphis and grew up in New Orleans, but married a Kansas boy five decades ago and considers herself a full-bred Kansan by now. She writes and edits poetry and creative nonfiction. Her work has appeared in I-70 Review, DMQ Review, Spank the Carp, Canyon Voices, and others. Her latest chapbook is Tying the Light (2014); some of her work can be seen at www.marilcrabtree.com

How Life Works by Maril Crabtree

Crabtree Head shot - 12%Time is the substance of which I am made. Time . . . is a fire that consumes me, but I am the fire.

Jorge Luis Borges

 

Time, you race car driver, you

careen around corners

and neverslowdown not

for tsunamis or earthquakes

oil slicks or fever blisters

or swamis dancing on nails

not even for the slow lick

of ice cream sweet

in the throat

 

you make me think

I’m here to cheer you on

to wave at your daring

from the stands

but with each lap more

of you disappears

I flag you yellow you

check you but

you speed faster still

 

you sweep me in seconds leave

me covered in dust birthdays

and funerals whiz by, wars

and uprisings your trail of debris

all that jetsam of history

and I hold aloft the only trophy

my consolation prize

the privilege of watching

my own life speed by

~ Maril Crabtree

-previously published in Tying the Light (Finishing Line Press, 2014)

Maril Crabtree married a Kansas boy five decades ago and considers herself a full-bred Kansan by now. She writes poetry and creative nonfiction and is a former poetry editor for Kansas City Voices. Her latest chapbook is Tying the Light (2014).

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.

26. To the Stars Through Difficulty: Maril Crabtree

Water drips and dances through years of drought and rain.

Neighbors argue over wells

that threaten to run dry. Still, harvest comes each year,

grain-laden fields compete

with oil-rigged earth, dark beaks that dip and plunge

into other shrinking pools,

the vast land scrubbed by dust, wiped clean with light

borrowed from a blazing sun,

buttered with an effervescent taste of yellow,
incense of sunflowered soil.
– Maril Crabtree

64. Memorial Day on the Prairie

Each year we plod through spring rain

or dry heat, step with care around new-broken

graves and fresh sod, nod to marbled pride,

generations with the same names as those

still alive back in town. We carefully poke

plastic roses into the ground and whisper

the ritual words. Red for the sister:

“It was her favorite color.” She died

when a drunk in a pickup smashed her red car.

Yellow for the father: “He was so cheerful.”

Except when his last years robbed him

of breath and speech. White for the stillborn

child, who wore the cord around his neck.

Sleeping in sacrificed wheat fields, these

are our loved ones: decades of harvested crops,

bread turned to stone, alone and blind

to these witnesses, scarved heads bowed.

Out here on the prairie, the wind never stops.

— Maril Crabtree

From Moving On (Pudding House Press 2010)

Maril Crabtree has lived in Kansas most of her adult life. Her poems are published in Coal City Review, Flint Hills Review, Steam Ticket, Kalliope, New Works Review and others. She is Poetry Co-editor of Kansas City Voices. Her most recent chapbook is Moving On (Pudding House Press, 2010).

18. Breaking the Drought

Three inches of rain! On the Kansas prairie,

those drowning in dust open their throats.

Listless milo, stunted corn, ragweed

 

and wild alfalfa stand tall. Only the Western

spruce, backyard survivor of endless high winds,

branches burned brown by waterless skies,

 

shows no change. Its owner, at ninety twice the age

of her tree, tough as buffalo grass, fragile

as winter wheat at harvest, jokes, “Everything is half dead

 

and half alive, including me.” We call for an expert.

The County Agent pokes and pinches, breaks off

brittle twigs, notes how few nodes the tree produced

 

for spring growth. When he delivers the news —

we could wait and see how it does through winter,

hope for revival – I’m tempted to agree. But when

 

my mother says, “Let’s cut it down,” I understand:

finally, something she can relieve of its suffering,

something that can come to a clear and certain end.

— Maril Crabtree

From Moving On (Pudding House Press 2010)

 

Maril Crabtree has lived in Kansas most of her adult life. Her poems are published in Coal City Review, Flint Hills Review, Steam Ticket, Kalliope, New Works Review and others. She is Poetry Co-editor of Kansas City Voices. Her most recent chapbook is Moving On (Pudding House Press, 2010).

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