Poetry of Love, Resistance, & Solidarity

Posts tagged ‘Robert L. Dean’

Yes the Killers–by Robert L. Dean, Jr.

like a flock of brilliant birds and so
I wrote that poem he says and I say When

was it that you saw them and he says Four years
ago the day after they found that

missing girl’s body in the frozen field
over which I saw them floating and I just had this

feeling you know and I say Yes I know I saw them too
just yesterday all yellow and red and blue all

bunched together still like some small hand
had blossomed just a moment ago and set them free

they were headed north it was a sign to me of things to come
though the trees were all still bare armed

and so sorrowful there It would be nice
he says if we could all be like balloons Yes I say opening

out my hand it would be nice My name is Blue I add
My name is Red he says I search the sky

on the way back home but all around me is that
field there is no moon and the bone chill night is murderous black

like it must have been four years ago and yet somewhere
on the other side of the world it’s greening

spring and someone’s found little girl lets go a
flock of many colors into the bright beamed face of God

runs laughing open armed towards laughing opening arms and so
I write this poem Madonna And Child, Laughing for

Red and me the missing nameless all of us yes the
killers too because I just have this feeling you know if you ever see



[“Yes the Killers” first appeared in Illya’s Honey, Spring, 2015.]

Robert L. Dean, Jr.’s work has appeared in Flint Hills Review, I-70 Review, The Ekphrastic Review, Illya’s Honey, Red River Review, River City Poetry, Heartland!, and the Wichita Broadsides Project. His haibun placed first at Poetry Rendezvous 2017. He has been selected as a reader at the 13th Annual Scissortail Creative Writing Festival in April of 2018 at East Central University in Ada, Oklahoma. He has been a professional musician and worked at The Dallas Morning News. He lives in Augusta, Kansas.

Guest Editor Roy J. Beckemeyer is from Wichita, Kansas. His poetry book, Music I Once Could Dance To (Coal City Press, 2014) was a 2015 Kansas Notable Book. He recently co-edited Kansas Time+Place: An Anthology of Heartland Poetry (Little Balkans Press, 2017) together with Caryn Mirriam Goldberg. That anthology collected poems that appeared on this website from 2014-2016. His latest book, Amanuensis Angel (Spartan Press, 2018) contains ekphrastic poems, inspired by a variety of artists’ depictions of angels, that “resound and sometimes subvert expectations” (Tyler Robert Sheldon), that provide “a kaleidoscope of history, art, culture, the sacred and the everyday” (Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg).

O Beautiful – by Robert L. Dean


A man begs us not to step over his family. He wears rags and tears and dust. Behind him a pile of rubble. Perhaps he once lived here. Perhaps also the legs and arms and heads before which he kneels. We do not know. We pass on by.

M10 hospital. We bandage. Stitch. Amputate. Slip, slide on blood, bowels. Don garments of stinking flesh. In a corner, a woman babbles, boy on a litter, eyes gone deaf. Windows shatter. Concrete dances. Barrel bomb. We burrow deeper. Carry wounded. Wounds. Dying. Death. What we carry, we become.

Ahead of us, a torch. Someone whispers: Crawl faster.

Sambisa Forest

When the men speak, it is not Chibok. Maybe Hausa. Arabic. They rip off the abaya, the niqab, the black they make us wear to cover our shame when it suits them, our only concealment, our one refuge, the cold ash of our village, our hearts. They ram into us, thighs banging buttocks. We are 14, 12, 8. Our mounds weep red. Husband, they say, in our language. Before the next one sticks it in.

Helicopters in the monkey-bread trees. Alone in our huts like graves. Blessed Virgin, we whisper: Blessed G.I. Joe. Machine guns. Rockets. Kaboom. Fingers laced, we listen. The hiss of snakes. The swagger of the husbands. What we are left with.

We eat bloody dates. Drink strange-leaved tea. Pledge mubaya’a. Birth their babies. Detonate in crowds of strangers. The husbands say we go to Paradise. And we do.


The Dead Women haunt the maquiladoras. Assemble into printers, TVs, cars. Sigh spreadsheets in Wenatchee, dust up Sioux City back roads, number Days of Our Lives in Brooklyn. They tire of trash dumps, sewers, creosote, cactus. Gardens of red crosses.

Mummies grin on morgue slabs. Sons. Uncles. Brothers. Those we ransom two times, three. Fifteen-year-olds in Escalades and Yankees caps collect. Quinceañera bouquets wither. Carnicerías, discotecas fire the night.

Make-shift altars: tequila, Marlboros, the things She craves. Black candles. Mariachis sing: Santa Muerte, Bony Lady, Lady of the Shadows, Lady of the Holy Death. We shoulder grappling hooks, machetes. Wade the river. Shimmer in the moon’s image. Tired. Poor. Huddled. What we are not: wretched.

Stars whisper. We climb. The eyes of gringo guns.


Robert L. Dean, Jr. majored in Music Composition at Wichita State University. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in journals such as Illya’s Honey, Red River Review, and I-70 Review. His chapbook Doors was a finalist in the 2014 Dallas Poets Community contest.

Guest Editor Roy J. Beckemeyer is President of the Kansas Authors Club. His poetry book, Music I Once Could Dance To (Coal City Press, 2014) was a 2015 Kansas Notable Book.

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