Nostalgia                                                                                 by Denise Low

Father drives our Studebaker downtown to the bakery
          for applesauce doughnuts, fresh out of the oven at nine.

We enter the store. Details of this moment sixty years ago
          return: cinnamon and cloves, glazed icing barely set,

yeasty sugary dough warm all the way down to my belly.
          One of the best times with my father. He was sober.

Maybe maples had turned scarlet in this village of brick streets.
          Maybe I remember because trees turn red again.
 
The white sack in his hand crumples over a baker’s dozen.
          Jingles clatter as we open the door to leave.

Without looking up the woman says, “Hurry back.”
          Father shuts the door behind him without a word.
Denise Low, Kansas Poet Laureate 2007-09, won Red Mountain Press Editor’s Choice Award for Shadow Light: Poems. Other books are Turtle’s Beating Heart, memoir (U. of Nebraska Press) and Casino Bestiary: Poems (Spartan). She has won 3 Ks. Notable Book Awards and other recognition. She teaches in Baker University’s MLA program.
November’s guest editor, Ronda Miller, is a former State President of Kansas Authors Club, 2018-2019. Miller has four books of poetry: Going Home: Poems from My Life, MoonStain, WaterSigns and Winds of Time. Her book, I Love the Child (2019, Kellogg Press) won first place for Children’s Books at the 2020 Kansas Author’s Club State Convention. Miller wanders The Arikaree Breaks every chance she gets.
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Turquoise Ring                                                                        by Olive Sullivan

Native Americans use turquoise as a powerful healing tool
connecting heaven and earth. It is associated with personal protection.


This is all about forgetting,
but in my dreams, he is remembering.
In my dream, he says,
I guess I’ll never wear that turquoise ring again.
I don’t even know where it is.
—You gave it to me a few years ago, I say.
Remember?
He doesn’t. Did you ever get it fixed?
—Yes, I used to wear it all the time,
like you.
It’s too big now, or maybe I am too small.

The dream follows me all day.
My dad doesn’t remember who I am.
I search my jewelry stash for the ring.
Late that night, under the waxing crescent moon,
I drive to my parents’ house.
I creep through the front door,
creep down the dark hallway,
creep into their bedroom.
Kneeling by the bed,
I slip the turquoise ring
under Dad’s side of the mattress.
I creep into his dreams.
I whisper, Remember. Please remember.
Olive L. Sullivan loves to walk on the prairie with her dogs. She travels anywhere that requires a passport. Her poetry, essays, and fiction have appeared in journals including, A Room of One's Own, The Little Balkans Review, The Midwest Quarterly, two anthologies, and in her full-length poetry collection, Wandering Bone (Meadowlark Books, 2017).
November’s guest editor, Ronda Miller, is a former State President of Kansas Authors Club, 2018-2019. Miller has four books of poetry: Going Home: Poems from My Life, MoonStain, WaterSigns and Winds of Time. Her book, I Love the Child (2019, Kellogg Press) won first place for Children’s Books at the 2020 Kansas Author’s Club State Convention. Miller wanders The Arikaree Breaks every chance she gets.

I Am Good At Loving Dying Things — Barbara Kerr

I am good at loving dying things

Old dogs, the older pear trees, foundered mares

A wren caught by the cat, rescued too late.

And teaching history, which no one cares about

Proposing doomed ideas to listless peers, and

Learning tongues five hundred people speak.

Somewhere along the line I jumped the shark

And kept on watching series that I loved

And savoring yellowed pages of my books.

We were giggling when we went to the E.R.

He passed out after having happy sex

I held his heavy arm, humming favorite songs, and then he died.

And now I put my fingers in the soil,

Caressing plants that just may die of heat

Or drown in endless rain on this our planet Earth.

Because I am good at loving dying things.

~ Barbara Kerr

Barbara Kerr, Ph.D., is the Williamson Family Distinguished Professor of Counseling Psychology and Co-Director of the Center for Creativity and Entrepreneurship Education at the University of Kansas. Dr. Kerr is the author of seven books and over one hundred articles on creativity and talent development. She is co-director of Lawrence Creates Makerspace, and has a small psychotherapy practice with creative adults. She lives on a Civil War era farm with many animals. This is her first poem.

November Editor, Ronda Miller, is the State President of Kansas Authors Club. Miller has four books of poetry: Going Home: Poems from My Life, MoonStain, WaterSigns and Winds of Time. Her upcoming children’s book, I Love the Child, will be published 12/13/2019. The book’s illustrator is Katie Wiggins, a found cousin.

Clockwork Waltz II — By Adam White

Christ, it’s after midnight.

Full moon out and I think it’s drizzling.

The silence is creepy

With all them standing there.

 

Put some music on, Strauss, Tchaikovsky, or Chopin.

The realism is stunning with each and every tiny detail.

Immaculate manicured and pedicured nails,

Eye shadow and mascara, lipstick and rogue.

 

Wind one of them up, tip-toe around

In the twilight, get lost in their soulless

Gaze in the moonlight.

 

The waltz is a horrid dance,

And I feel so smug moving to melody

With my creations.

 

Pygmalion was a pig

And I’m no better.

~ Adam White

Adam White is an English major at Washburn University. A Topeka native, Adam graduated from Seaman High school in 2010. In his free time he enjoys writing, reading, and listening to music.

November Editor, Ronda Miller, is the State President of Kansas Authors Club. Miller has four books of poetry: Going Home: Poems from My Life, MoonStain, WaterSigns and Winds of Time. Her upcoming children’s book, I Love the Child, will be published 12/13/2019. The book’s illustrator is Katie Wiggins, a found cousin.

Blood — By James Benger

Dad sold his blood

on Saturday afternoons

a couple times a month.

 

Mom off waitressing,

or maybe the warehouse job,

or any other place the temp agency

would send her,

Dad’d load us into the

rusted quarter panel conversion van,

soup can dangling from baling wire

(I think it was beef noodle)

to catch the constant oil leak,

that van where the stray cat died

on the block one horrid January morning,

that van he once let me drive home

from Cub Scouts, only to have

a crow go headfirst into the grille.

 

Dad’d back out into the dirt and gravel of

Marquette Avenue,

all beer cans and spent needles,

and we’d roll down 41,

hoping for potholes, that when hit at top speed,

would give you that roller coaster stomach,

if only for a second.

 

There was this lot at the side of the highway,

lettering on the sign out front

always made me think of jars of Miracle Whip,

they sold “luxury housing solutions for

our new mobile world,”

which meant singlewides,

and fifth-hand RV’s.

 

Right next door, you’d find the tiny white house,

rail out front in case you felt faint while leaving.

They’d put Dad in a recliner,

hook him up to red-stained plastic tubes,

let us sit in the corner,

had the biggest TV I’d ever seen,

must’ve been twenty-eight inches, and color,

gave us orange juice and

oatmeal raisin cookies,

tuned the box to Masters of the Universe

while they slowly sucked Dad’s blood.

 

One time Mom and Dad took us to the circus,

I was afraid of the clowns,

but I got a huge bag of

the world’s butteriest popcorn,

and a plastic cap gun,

and I still remember the red stripes,

the salt on my winter-chapped lips.

 

Mom and Dad,

they gave us those first memories,

and they paid for them in blood.

~ James Benger

James Benger is the author of two fiction ebooks, three chapbooks, one full-length poetry book, and is a coauthor of three split books of poetry. He is on the Board of Directors for The Writers Place and the Riverfront Readings Committee, and is the founder of the 365 Poems In 365 Days online workshop. He is Editor in Chief of the subsequent anthology series. He lives in Kansas City with his wife and two sons.

November Editor, Ronda Miller, is the State President of Kansas Authors Club. Miller has four books of poetry: Going Home: Poems from My Life, MoonStain, WaterSigns and Winds of Time. Her upcoming children’s book, I Love the Child, will be published 12/13/2019. The book’s illustrator is Katie Wiggins, a found cousin.

Stoplight — By Tatyana Younger

Red

The Uber driver hits his breaks

a little too hard,

as he slows the car too far

away from the light.

There in the corner

two black men sit with signs.

I want to jump out,

and offer the men the money I have,

but I notice the driver doesn’t seem ready to stop.

His fingers, trembling,

he just can’t get them to

Stop

Suddenly,

the elderly white man beside me begins breathing heavily

Huh huh huh

He, painfully slow,

rolls the car up to the crosswalk

Huh huh huh

As if

Every

Roll

Closer

To these men is

Huh huh huh

suffocating him.

I keep my head forward.

Afraid of looking down.

Afraid of looking away.

Waiting.

He jumps when one of the men exclaims.

Hands grip the wheel.

In another life, his wallet.

In another, a gun.

And now I see

Red.

The car inches forward,

The men look our way,

The driver presses the gas.

I open my mouth to finally speak

Green.

~ Tatyana Younger

Tatyana Younger is Kansas born and raised. She is a paraprofessional educator, activist, and poet. She’s committed to community engagement, spending much of her time at community meals and events. Unapologetically black, yet undeniably anxious, she hopes to build solidarity wherever she goes in her life.

November Editor, Ronda Miller, is the State President of Kansas Authors Club. Miller has four books of poetry: Going Home: Poems from My Life, MoonStain, WaterSigns and Winds of Time. Her upcoming children’s book, I Love the Child, will be published 12/13/2019. The book’s illustrator is Katie Wiggins, a found cousin.

Time Zone in Scorpio – Ronda Miller

fiery ramifications,

a blazing sun.

S. Korean silent,

not to embarrass self,

national communiqué.

 

There’s something not right

with the sky tonight, hot breath

of summer months away. Miami

man, at Swope Park, slinking

rage, scent of murderous ways.

 

Something’s not right

with the sky today,

it’s pushing me away.

Breath comes overwrought

with too much afterthought.

Breathe in. Breathe out.

 

Something’s not right with

The moon tonight, it’s purple, not gold.

The squirrels are acting crazed.

 

Fingers lace amidst flowers.

~ Ronda Miller

November editor, Ronda Miller, is State President of the Kansas Authors Club (2018 – 2019). Her three books of poetry include Going Home: Poems from My Life, MoonStain (Meadowlark-Books, 2015) and WaterSigns (Meadowlark-Books, 2017). Miller lives in Lawrence but returns to wander The Arikaree Breaks of Cheyenne county every chance she gets. Kansas Authors Club.

A Boy Cries Bullet – Darrien Case

Stephon Clark was shot and killed on the evening of March 18, 2018, by two officers of the Sacramento Police Department

When a boy cries bullet

his body be canvas and fear to stains

like mercy,

laid to dry

against the unforgiving side

of a concrete palette.

 

When a boy cries bullet,

his rights are read as the trigger is pulled.

Shrieking sirens

ain’t got nothing

on the level they shout

his failures.

 

When a boy cries bullet,

he will not comply

with a bloodthirsty

open muzzle, either way,

he is worthy

of consumption

 

When a boy cries bullet,

his folks gather for home going service

to wade through sorrow,

that

will

flow

from

a weeping

Mother.

When a black boy unearths his skin,

he digs out boundless joy

the size of mustard seeds.

Sows them across the backyard

of his grandmother’s home.

For that is the most

sheltered

place of growth,

right?

~ Darrien Case

Darrien Case is an award winning spoken word artist. He was honored as “Best Newcomer” by the Music and More Poetry Foundation in 2018. A seven-time Kansas City Poetry Slam Champion, two-time FTW Poetry Slam Champion and represented KCPS (Kansas City Poetry Slam) at the 2018 National Poetry Slam. He wishes one day to start a social venture dedicated to utilizing poetry for healing trauma for the in youth his community.

November editor, Ronda Miller, is State President of the Kansas Authors Club (2018 – 2019). Her three books of poetry include Going Home: Poems from My Life, MoonStain (Meadowlark-Books, 2015) and WaterSigns (Meadowlark-Books, 2017). Miller lives in Lawrence but returns to wander The Arikaree Breaks of Cheyenne county every chance she gets. Kansas Authors Club.

Footage from Aleppo — Roy Beckemeyer

“…a lark talking madness in some corner of the sky.” – Joseph Auslander, from his poem “Dawn at the Rains Edge.”

Laser-eyed bombs streak in, unheard

and unseen until the earth,

flash-blinded by frenzy,

grabs the sky by the throat,

shakes it, erupts, rolls up.

A flock of short-toed larks takes flight

at the madness, sweeps over

the roadside in an aching cloud,

a dancing random swirl,

movements mirrored, for just a moment,

by a dead man’s keffiyeh, blown free,

billowing: birds and scarf together

a stark calligraphy, a sort of script,

a staging, a new orthography of atonement.

~ Roy Beckemeyer

Roy J. Beckemeyer was President of the Kansas Authors Club from 2016-2017. His latest book of poetry is Stage Whispers (Meadowlark-Books, 2019). Music I Once Could Dance To won the Kansas Notable Book award (Coal City Press, 2014).

November editor, Ronda Miller, is State President of the Kansas Authors Club (2018 – 2019). Her three books of poetry include Going Home: Poems from My Life, MoonStain (Meadowlark-Books, 2015) and WaterSigns (Meadowlark-Books, 2017). Miller lives in Lawrence but returns to wander The Arikaree Breaks of Cheyenne county every chance she gets. Kansas Authors Club.

Trafficking — Diane Palka

I heard there were one hundred

ten who didn’t survive,

no one cares

in the nightmare.

They sucked air through a tube

took turns breathing, staying alive,

shades of brown twisting on a burning Rubik’s cube

in the nightmare.

Nothing gets done about the ten, ninety,

or thousands more in cargo bins, rolling ovens,

truth ignored along with those

in the nightmare.

Politicians – cobras all – spit venom,

blind each other with hate, the real villains

slithering through politics, lining their own pockets

in the nightmare.

Bald Eagle soars – looks down

showers tears upon innocents abandoned,

tortured, left to die, rot in hell or in a living hell

in the nightmare.

Will we ever say, “Life trumps senseless death

compassion trumps cash, truth trumps lies

love trumps hate, goodness trumps evil,”

in the nightmare?

~ Diane Palka

Diane Palka resides in rural Overbrook, KS. She has four series of haiku published in Tall Grass Voices (Hill Song Press) and “Sunflower Turtle,” in Kansas Time + Place, 150 Kansas Poems (WordPress.com). She writes prose, free verse and Japanese forms of poetry. She has been a long-time member of Kansas Authors Club and is the treasurer for District Two.

November editor, Ronda Miller, is State President of the Kansas Authors Club (2018 – 2019). Her three books of poetry include Going Home: Poems from My Life, MoonStain (Meadowlark-Books, 2015) and WaterSigns (Meadowlark-Books, 2017). Miller lives in Lawrence but returns to wander The Arikaree Breaks of Cheyenne county every chance she gets. Kansas Authors Club.