Poetry of Kansas Here & Now, There & Then

Posts tagged ‘Ronda Miller’

Housework by David Romvedt

David RomvedtI’m on a stepladder, spacklin

a crack that opened in the wall

after an earthquake. My father

did this same work. At home,

he hit my mother–how soft

her face was. She told him,

“never again.” When he hit

his children she stayed quiet.

 

Even in small earthquakes

there are aftershocks and this

one’s no different. The ground

shaking again, I climb down

the ladder and sit on the floor.

 

My father away, my mother made

us sandwiches then gave the silent

blessing. Holding hands, I hoped

she couldn’t ready my thoughts.

Not that he hit us that often, I mean,

maybe, you know, I’m exaggerating.

 

I look out the window and watch

the leaves trembling on the trees.

 

For forty years she grew quieter,

one day whispering that she felt

short of breath, that her breathing

wasn’t right, she couldn’t breathe.

 

I get the broom and sweep up

bread crumbs and lint and hair.

I scrub the toilet then attack

the ring in the tub. It’s hot

and sweat drips into my eyes.

 

My mother died without a word

to me nor me to her. Who knows

when the house will stop shaking,

if it’s worth spackling the crack.

~ David Romtvedt

David Romtvedt, a graduate of Reed College and the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop, served in the Peace Corps in the Congo and Rwanda and on a sister city construction project in Jalapa, Nicaragua. He teaches in the MFA program for writers at the University of Wyoming where he was the poet laureate from 2003 – 2011. His books include Buffalotarrak, an Anthology of the Basque People of Buffalo, Wyoming (2011) and the novel Zelestina Urza in Outer Space (2015), both from the Center for Basque Studies at the University of Nevada. His latest book of poetry, Dilemmas of the Angels, will be published by Louisiana State University press in spring 2017. He is the recipient of the Wyoming Governor’s Arts Award, a Wyoming Arts Council Literature fellowship, the Pushcart Prize, the National Poetry series award, and two NEA fellowships in poetry and music.

Ronda Miller enjoys wandering the high plateau of NW Kansas where the Arikaree Breaks whisper late into the sunset and scream into blizzards and thunderstorms. She lives in Lawrence close to her son and daughter. She is a district president and the state vice president for Kansas Authors Club. She is a life coach specializing in working with those who have lost someone to homicide. She dances every chance she gets. She has poetry in numerous online and hard copy publications that include The Smithsonian Institute. Two books of poetry include Going Home: Poems from My Life and MoonStain (Meadowlark Books, May 2015).

Jim Morrison and I Hop a Train to Hays by Lindsey Martin-Bowen

for Roy BeckemeyerLindsey

We didn’t think we’d make it—that leap

to a boxcar from gravel limestone

edging tracks on bedrock, their ties locked

in solid links that smell of burnt tar

and metal grinding against steel rods.

 

Jim plans to play a gig there, even

though no one but me knows he’s alive.

Wind twist his hair into knots, and sun-

light ripples across alfalfa fields

to highlight his sweaty back, now black

 

with soot from the engine throbbing churned

coal wile we move past Kanorado–

head east on these tracks from dusty town

to town. Pawnee ghosts hem the horizon,

and a Quivira chases them.

 

Just Jim and I see the warriors.

We pray we earn their blessing while we

wave goodbye to yellow-orange cornstalks.

Sunflowers whiz past, a meadowlark

dashes into flight, and fields turn mauve.

 

While the freight’s whistle echoes stories,

bravado about hippy-nomadic

lives subsides, and we morph from steel

and its hard, cold images of dead

heroes into flesh, pulsing what’s real.

~ Lindsey Martin-Bowen

Lindsey Martin-Bowen, a native Kansan, taught at JCCC. Her Crossing Kansas with Jim Morrison (Paladin Contemporaries 2016) was a semi-finalist (in chapbook form) for QuillsEdge Books 2015-16 contest. A poem in her Inside Virgil’s Garage (chatter House 2013) was nominated for pushcart, and Standing on the Edge of the World (Woodley), was a Top 10 Poetry Books for 2008. New Letters, I-70 Review, Thorny Locust, Coal City Review, Flint Hills Review, Amethyst Arsenic, Bare Root Review, Little Balkans Review, and others have run her poems. She teaches at MCC-Longview.

Ronda Miller enjoys wandering the high plateau of NW Kansas where the Arikaree Breaks whisper late into the sunset and scream into blizzards and thunderstorms. She lives in Lawrence close to her son and daughter. She is a district president and the state vice president for Kansas Authors Club. She is a life coach specializing in working with those who have lost someone to homicide. She dances every chance she gets. She has poetry in numerous online and hard copy publications that include The Smithsonian Institute. Two books of poetry include Going Home: Poems from My Life and MoonStain (Meadowlark Books, May 2015).

Stories by James Benger

James BenderI could tell you about the time

we raced to the top of the water tower,

bare legs and arms pumping up the

wet, cold metal rungs of the ladder,

its white paint coming off in patches,

adhering to our palms or falling to the ground.

Before we got to the top, we imagined

from up there we’d be able to see the

world, or at least the state line, but

no matter where we stood around that

sunbaked tank of drink, all we saw

were fields, trailers and someone’s

lost mangy dog hobbling down the

gravel road that was more dirt than gravel.

 

I could tell you about the time

we jacked the keys to Buddy’s sister’s

Mustang from the kitchen counter

when she wasn’t looking and how we

flew with the wind ripping at our eyes,

all of us too false-macho to ask for the

top to go back up – it was winter, after all.

When the sky went dark and we finally

came back, she was red-faced and spitting,

screaming till she cried and everyone laughed,

but I almost cried along with her,

no one should ever have to feel like she must’ve.

 

I could tell you about the time

I found a lost chick on the side of the road

when I was walking home from fourth grade,

her yellow fuzz still there, scared eyes above

a scraped-up, ravenous beak.

I took her home and hid her under that sink

that no one ever really used.

I named her and fed her dry rice until the end.

 

I could tell you about the time

that we shot our bb guns at anything

that would yield to the tiny balls,

downed leaves and mulberries,

soft moldering wood in the fire pit.

We emptied fast food ketchup packets

into the barrels so that when the bb’s came out,

they’d take the ketchup too, make it

look like blood spray, or a food fight.

 

I could tell you about the time

that that girl who sat behind me in

seventh grade algebra, the one who always

copied my homework, even though I

was a D student, otherwise she’d fail, the

time she took my hand in the hallway

in between fourth and fifth hours and she

kissed me on the cheek, a tiny ring of wet

warmth on my face, and I swear I

could feel the flutter of an eyelash on my skin.

The next day she was just gone from

everywhere but my head.

 

I could tell you about the time

I pretended to not care when everything

was crashing down in insurmountable

obstacles, towering doubts, negativity

and pressure to just give in, but you

pulled me back and righted my angle

and reminded me that everything is temporary;

nothing is static, pressure is only pressure

because there is inevitable release.

 

I could tell you any or all of these things,

but you’ve heard all my stories before.

So I’ll just stand silently beside you

And breathe in the next moment.

~ James Benger

James Benger is a father, husband and writer. He is the author of two fiction ebooks, Flight 776 (2012) and Jack of Diamonds (2013) and one chapbook of poetry, As I Watch You Fade (EMP 2016). He lives n South Kansas City with his wife and son. In 2015 James started an online anthology among fellow poets called 365 Days. A book has since been published with a collection of some of those poems – 365 Days: A Poetry Anthology.

Ronda Miller enjoys wandering the high plateau of NW Kansas where the Arikaree Breaks whisper late into the sunset and scream into blizzards and thunderstorms. She lives in Lawrence close to her son and daughter. She is a district president and the state vice president for Kansas Authors Club. She is a life coach specializing in working with those who have lost someone to homicide. She dances every chance she gets. She has poetry in numerous online and hard copy publications that include The Smithsonian Institute. Two books of poetry include Going Home: Poems from My Life and MoonStain (Meadowlark Books, May 2015).

The House with the Mansard Roof by Eve Ott

I tapped on the door to her room that stood slightly ajarEveOtt

before gently pushing it open.

Her face could have lit a dark space when she saw me.

She hugged me tight, pulled back, lit up again, then

hugged me some more.

 

Her walls are covered with mandalas, all the same,

each different, that she has colored. Canisters of

colored pencils sit on each of two small tables.

 

You must have the most beautiful room on the floor, I say.

I do, she says. Mandalas.

 

We go out for lunch. Turns out Newton, Kansas has some

wonderful old houses. She keeps pointing out the

ones with mansard roofs.

 

Remember, she says to me, remember how we used to…

 

But the thoughts drifts off, so I study the roofs, and, yes,

there were such in Emporia, Kansas, where we were

unlikely classmates in graduate school, she so young

and willowy, I a staggering newly single mother of two.

 

She points to another mansard house. Remember? She says.

 

Yes! Ghosts. Underground railroad, right?

 

Yes! Remember how we saw them, those ghosts? Remember?

 

And I do. I remember how we walked around town,

told each other tales, most always cynical, humorous,

self mocking, sometimes licentious and most often

centered around the house with the mansard roof.

 

Good, she says, Good for you. And remember we kind

of joked a little, and we wrote, didn’t we? We wrote

some, some…

Poems, I say.

 

Yes, Very short little words. But those roofs. Remember?

 

Yes, I do.

Well, we shouldn’t have laughed, you know. They are

there, those ghosts. And they are very very lonely.

~ Eve Ott

 

Eve Ott loves the Kansas City writing community and has been writing up a storm since she retired there in 2007. Her collection Album from the Silent Generation was released last year by Aldrich Press. Eve has poems in several anthologies.

Ronda Miller enjoys wandering the high plateau of NW Kansas where the Arikaree Breaks whisper late into the sunset and scream into blizzards and thunderstorms. She lives in Lawrence close to her son and daughter. She is a district president and the state vice president for Kansas Authors Club. She is a life coach specializing in working with those who have lost someone to homicide. She dances every chance she gets. She has poetry in numerous online and hard copy publications that include The Smithsonian Institute. Two books of poetry include Going Home: Poems from My Life and MoonStain (Meadowlark Books, May 2015).

Moonstain by Ronda Miller

RondaMillerBarn doors pushed closed an

indication something worth investigating

was within. It took all my strength to

slide to open, close again.

 

New birth in pungent urgency led

me to the still born calf quite warm. I

nestled into the hay beside it, placed

my arms around its neck.

 

I knew what death was—had

listened to whispers about my

mother’s not long before. I could

hear the mother cow’s loud bawling

from outside the back barn door.

 

I felt the spirit lift from the calf, swirl

around me, disappear. It grew cold;

I felt damp fear.

 

I sat in the caliginous stall

until my sister came, took my

hand, ran with me past my grandmother’s

garden of hollyhocks, iris, strawberries,

rhubarb, past the spot where the

rattler soaked up water from a sprinkler

one August day, past the rotten elm where

winged fire ants swarmed in balls before

they tumbled to the ground.

 

We opened the rusted screen door, tiptoed

to bed where I lay crying, because it

felt so wondrous, because it felt so good,

until the moon’s stain no longer

spread across the floor.

Bio: Ronda Miller enjoys wandering the high plateau of NW Kansas where the Arikaree Breaks whisper late into the sunset and scream into blizzards and t-storms. She lives in Lawrence close to her son and daughter. She is Youth Contest Manager for Kansas Authors Club, District 2 President, and a Life Coach specializing in working with those who have lost someone to homicide. She dances every chance she gets. She has poetry in numerous online and hard copy publications that include The Smithsonian Institute. 

Guest Editor Diane Wahto has an MFA in creative writing from Wichita State University. Her poem, “Someone Is Always Watching,” won the American Academy of Poets award. Recently, her poems “The Conspiracy of Coffee” and “After the Storm” were published in Active Aging. She, her husband, and two dogs live in Wichita, Kansas. dwahto@cox.net

Coats and Friends

RondaMillerI take my coat to you for a remake.  It
isn’t mine or my mother’s.

She left me her wedding dress of
dark gray, a 1940’s Art Deco mirror,
rectangular shaped with gold swirls on
all four sides, so I can look into my
past/future/watch for her features in
my face.

I say, “I’m thinking southwestern style with
horses/silhouettes of birch trees; maybe a sunset.”

You say, “If I were to ask you to write a
poem for my wedding, I wouldn’t tell
you what to write.
I understand it is trust
you require from me; silence.

I respond, “I wouldn’t write a poem about
death for your wedding. I would ask you questions.”

I put on the white, wool coat that comes
down to my shins.  It’s as heavy as a
blanket.  I think how lovely it is.  Maybe I
should leave it alone.  It isn’t my mother’s coat,
but it is someone’s mother’s coat.  I love it
even though I never wear it.

You say, “Let’s shorten it to knee length, add
a couple of buttons here, get rid of the sash.”

I picture the new look, think how
modern/light it will feel.
You say, “I’m thinking Art Deco.”
I say, “I trust you,” leave.

– Ronda Miller enjoys wandering the high plateau of NW Kansas where the Arikaree Breaks whisper late into the sunset and scream into blizzards and t-storms. She lives in Lawrence where she is close to her son and daughter. She is Poetry Contest Manager for Kansas Authors Club, and is a Life Coach specializing in those who have lost someone to homicide.

– April’s Guest Editor, Roy Beckemeyer, edits scientific journals and writes poetry and essays. His poems have most recently been accepted by or appeared in The Midwest Quarterly, Straylight, The North Dakota Quarterly, Nebo, Mikrokosmos, Coal City Review, and The Lyric.  He lives in Wichita, Kansas and has degrees from St. Louis University, Wichita State University, and The University of Kansas.

He notes: “In the poem series I have chosen for April, I have  focused on works that define our sense of Time and Place by the people we know, the people we interact with, the people we live with. “

Winter Witch by Ronda Miller

Winter Witch’s furrowed mud brow relaxes lateRondaMiller

month. Her charcoal hair streams for miles into sluggish

Ogallala Aquifer where she lies under earth’s frozen crust.

 

Thighs, hardened thick as tree trunks, slide open.

Juices bubble within her womb.

 

Hope makes its way in rivulets to hair like follicles.

Plant roots, a tightly gathered loop lassoed by gnarled

fingers, loosen in her grasp. Dirt caked nails

curl black against forearm.

 

Catfish, frozen on creek bottoms, belch;

a bubble of life surface bound.

All quiet as sun rotates, brings direct gaze to deep

recesses, calls all nature components in silent cadence.

 

Wind whipped crevices of Arikaree Breaks

whistle. Winter Witch moans; rolls over.

 

February desolation

lustrating rains of April

neither here nor there…..

 

MAR…deface, disfigure, deform

followed by breathless CH………

~ Ronda Miller

Ronda Miller enjoys wandering the high plateau of NW Kansas where the Arikaree Breaks whisper late into the sunset and scream into blizzards and t-storms. She lives in Lawrence close to her son and a daughter. She is Poetry Contest Manager for Kansas Authors Club, and is a Life Coach specializing in working with those who have lost someone to homicide. She dances every chance she gets.

March’s Guest Editor, Ronda Miller, is Poetry Contest Manager for Kansas Authors Club and their District 2 President. Her goal in both positions is to encourage people from all backgrounds and ages to appreciate and write poetry. As a Life Coach who specializes in working with those who have lost someone to homicide, she appreciates the multitude of voices and the healing power of the written and spoken word. Her quote, ‘Poetry is our most natural connection among one another’ best exemplifies her belief in poetry. Her words can be found in Begin Again: 150 Kansas Poems, To the Stars Through Difficulties: A Kansas Renga in 150 Voices, Going Home: Poems from My Life and online in The Shine Journal – The Light Left Behind, Zingara Poet, Kansas Time + Space, and hard copy publications such as The Lawrence Journal World. She authored documentary The 150 Reride of The Pony Express and created poetic forms Loku and Ukol.

 

Tag Cloud