Poetry of Kansas Here & Now, There & Then

Posts tagged ‘Roland Sodowsky’

Barrel by Roland Sodowsky

It cost a dollar or so, sometimes nothing,photo(1)

came from a gas station, auction, junk yard.

With top intact and airtight lids, it stored

gasoline, kerosene, oil, diesel,

could be sawed in two for cattle to drink from.

Topless but water-tight, it stood under

the spout at the barn and caught rainwater

meant for chickens, carried sixty yards,

two buckets a trip. At times tadpoles brought up

from the creek swam in it and became frogs

doomed to drown unless used as fishbait

and, of course, doomed anyway.

A tilted barrel soaked locust posts

in old motor oil to fend off termites.

It was a varmint-proof container for oats,

barley, hors d’oeuvres for privileged horses.

Half-buried in a south-sloping hill,

it sheltered hounds from winter wind

and spring rain. Another by the back porch

held scraps of blankets for the shepherd dog,

who was collarless and loved as family.

The best barrel had lost both ends and was useless

except to crawl into, then brace as someone

sent us rolling and bouncing wildly down

a rough hillside, both scared and delighted

to know we might get hurt, with scratches, bruises,

to crash against a tree, in a ditch, creek,

be thrown out or slow to a safe, boring stop,

then carry it back up, roll down again.

Roland Sodowsky grew up on a small ranch in western Oklahoma. He has three degrees from Oklahoma State University and studied Old High German as a Fulbright Scholar in Germany. Sodowsky has taught linguistics, literature, and creative writing at OSU, the University of Calabar in Nigeria, the University of Texas, Sul Ross State University, and Missouri State University. He has published poetry, short stories, or novellas in Atlantic Monthly, American Literary Review, Glimmer Train, and Midwest Quarterly, among others. His collection of short stories, Things We Lose (U. Missouri PR), won the Associated Writing Programs’ Award for Short Fiction. He received the National Cowboy Hall of Fame Short Fiction Award for Interim in the Desert (TCU Pr). He received the Coordinating Council of Literary Magazines-General Electric Award for fiction, and has been a recipient of the National Endowment for the Arts award. Now retired, he lives in Pittsburg, KS with his wife, the poet Laura Lee Washburn.

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’s been 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.

84. To the Stars Through Difficulty: Roland Sodowsky

On a John Deere D tractor, early July,
plowing a wheat field north of Cimarron:
now and then a cloud, and I was grateful,

even more grateful to see a car, pickup—
anything moving—appear on the horizon,

a dark speck north or south that grew larger,
passed along the east side of the field, dwindled,
disappeared—not over a hill—just disappeared.

My certainty that we, passerby and I,
shared something still embarrasses me.

— Roland Sodowsky

148. Thump

In an old house the noise could be the cat

swatting a Christmas tree ball,

 

a pile of wobbly presents or stacked books

surrendering to gravity,

 

the washing machine venting its hatred

of rugs, the refrigerator’s harsh cough,

 

plumbing tying a new knot in itself,

one of the useless chimneys toppling,

 

a full-length mirror diving off the closet door,

three-legged stool ineptly reglued,

 

woman or man or dog tumbling down stairs,

some winged thing in attic, basement, bedroom,

 

a ninety-six-year-old house that sighs and says,

A hundred isn’t feasible. I can’t.

— Roland Sodowsky

Roland Sodowsky worked in Kansas wheat fields as a teenager. His books include Things We Lose, an AWP award winner, Interim in the Desert, Un-Due West, and poetry and fiction in Atlantic Monthly and Midwest Quarterly, among others. A 2009 Kansas Voices winner, he lives with his wife, Laura Lee Washburn, in Pittsburg, KS.

60. Fog

The faded, sometimes missing line

at the highway’s edge conspires this morning

with fog, a moving dome of uncertainty,

and the muscle in my chest that clenches

and relaxes tamely now but picks

secret reasons and moments to race,

bored by its mundane life, its narrow

choices: beat day and night. Or stop.

Nurses plug their patients into machines—

we are piecework—collect their printouts,

and the shiny doctor descends, thumps,

taps, listens, says, “Take your pulse often.”

As in the song, I think, “Keep a close watch,”

but don’t say it, and shut the doors gently

so not to alarm the hovering fog.
Roland Sodowsky worked in Kansas wheat fields as a teenager. His books include Things We Lose, an AWP award winner, Interim in the Desert, Un-Due West, and poetry and fiction in Atlantic Monthly and Midwest Quarterly, among others. A 2009 Kansas Voices winner, he lives with his wife, Laura Lee Washburn, in Pittsburg, KS.

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