Poetry of Kansas Here & Now, There & Then

Posts tagged ‘Mark Scheel’

30. To the Stars Through Difficulty: Mark Scheel

But most of all pay homage to the land–
mother-sustainer of all that is, has been, shall be.
The lad whose pockets once held ossified crinoid stems
and arrowheads gathered among sunflowers

has grown, evolved, to asphalt paths and granite halls.
Who on Memorial Day by epitaphs reflects
upon the wheatfields, bluestem pasture, creek
that fed his roots.  That soil infused into his bones.

Yet his departure for a new life leaves no scars.
It was but his way of reaching for the stars.
– Mark Scheel

79. Rain

I remember the green pickup,

coming home in the rain.

From the barn to the house

my father carried me piggyback,

beneath his oil-skinned slicker,

below his wet straw hat.

 

Cocky as a squirrel,

I looked out across

his shoulder at the dark, wet world

and breathed the smell

of damp straw and

manly sweat, felt the closed-in

warmth of blue cotton against

my arms, the certain rhythm

of booted steps in mud, confident

and steady, and I knew

no pelting rain could fall on me.

 

He might have warned me, “Son,

listen, other rains will come,

pounding shut your eyes

on highways you’ll never ask

the name of.” (And the miles of rain

I’d know would prove

it true.) But no. Not then.

He gave instead the gift of silence –

bursting like a young oak, fragile

as a bee’s wing – as I

rode blue-cotton warm above

my father’s booted feet, steadfast

in where we chose

to go and how we meant

to get there.

– Mark Scheel
Mark Scheel was born and raised on a farm in rural, east-central Kansas. He served overseas with the American National Red Cross in Vietnam, Thailand, Germany and England and later took graduate studies and taught at Emporia State University. Prior to retirement he was an information specialist with the Johnson County Library in Shawnee Mission, Kansas, and a prose editor for Kansas City Voices magazine. His most recent book, A Backward View: Stories & Poems, won the J. Donald Coffin Memorial Book Award from the Kansas Authors Club.

7. Prairie Idyl

Hail-stripped cottonwoods

weep like battered wives;

yesterday’s wheat fields molder

in galvanized tombs.

 

It’s been this way before:

the patriarchal sun turning

his gray side out like a banker

locking his door.

 

Main streets lie fallow

as desert bones. Tumbleweeds

dance on doorsteps.

Logo caps commiserate

round gun-racked pickup trucks

while only the crow’s cry

 

mocks the stillness. And I—

turning a shoulder to the dark wind—

pilgrimage past the boarded school,

slip the wrought-iron portal’s latch,

drop to one knee and lay a peony

on my mother’s grave.

– Mark Scheel

Mark Scheel was born and raised on a farm in rural, east-central Kansas. He served overseas with the American National Red Cross in Vietnam, Thailand, Germany and England and later took graduate studies and taught at Emporia State University. Prior to retirement he was an information specialist with the Johnson County Library in Shawnee Mission, Kansas, and a prose editor for Kansas City Voices magazine. His most recent book, A Backward View: Stories & Poems, won the J. Donald Coffin Memorial Book Award from the Kansas Authors Club.

 

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