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.