Poetry of Love, Resistance, & Solidarity

Posts tagged ‘Roy Beckemeyer’

I try to write it for you in my head by Julie Ramon

Julieramon.jpgI try to write it for you in my head
every morning when I turn down
the numbered gravel road that leads
me into Kansas. Things are different
here. Cows gather near fence lines
and raise their wet noses to smell
the wind that welcomes traveling
geese and flocks of starlings
that twirl and spin through the air.
And when the sun rises, it deepens
the copper on train cars, the rust
on an abandoned Chevy truck
shell, and patches of vines growing
to the tips of leaning telephone poles.
But, when I arrive home and see
your arms open and the shape
of your face change, I forget it all.

 

Julie Ramon is an English instructor, specializing in English as a second language, at Pittsburg State University in Kansas. She graduated with an M.F.A from Spalding University in Louisville, Kentucky. Her poems “Making Tamales” and “Making Tortillas” were recently published in the literary food magazine, Graze. She enjoys baking and selling cakes from home on weekends. She lives in Joplin, Missouri with her husband and son.

Guest Editor: Roy Beckemeyer is from Wichita, Kansas. His poems have recently appeared in The Midwest Quarterly, Kansas City Voices, The North Dakota Review, and I-70 Review. Two of his poems were nominated for the 2016 Pushcart Prize competition. His debut collection of poems, “Music I Once Could Dance To,” published in 2014 by Coal City Review and Press, was selected as a 2015 Kansas Notable Book by the State Library of Kansas and the Kansas Center for the Book.

 

Driving I-70 by Maril Crabtree

Crabtree Head shot - 12%At sunset, traffic turns nervous.
SUV’s and blunt-nosed vans
command the lanes. A red Silverado

darts here and there with the sure grace
of a dragonfly, stitching lanes together
as it weaves in and out. The air blooms

with the tang of gasoline, hums with the weary drone
of tires on asphalt. Behind these wheels sit women
rehashing the morning’s dispute with their lover

or men hoping they can get home
in time to have a beer and watch the game. Herds of headlights
swallow the sun’s last rays. As the rain begins,

A thousand windshield wipers fling it away.
Lawns have been watered and swimming pools filled. The rain
is nothing but a nuisance. It’s already too dark for rainbows.

 

 

Maril Crabtree married a Kansas boy five decades ago and considers herself a full-bred Kansan by now. She writes poetry and creative nonfiction and is a former poetry editor for Kansas City Voices. Her latest chapbook is Tying the Light (2014).

Guest Editor: Roy Beckemeyer is from Wichita, Kansas. His poems have recently appeared in The Midwest Quarterly, Kansas City Voices, The North Dakota Review, and I-70 Review. Two of his poems were nominated for the 2016 Pushcart Prize competition. His debut collection of poems, “Music I Once Could Dance To,” published in 2014 by Coal City Review and Press, was selected as a 2015 Kansas Notable Book by the State Library of Kansas and the Kansas Center for the Book.

Encore by Roy Beckemeyer

RoyBeckemeyerthe city lights fade behind us
like a second sundown,
a slowly dimming arc
of light born of commerce,
while stars at the edge
of the diminished glow blink,
hopeful of a darkening sky

the sky’s blackness
falls all the way
from the vault of the meridian
to that always receding westward line
of earth and grass –
somewhere there are trees
framing the sky,
but out here things are
unrestrained, wild and arching
and open as your soul

home at last, we stop the car,
get out, let our eyes
go wide – you reach your arms
up and whirl around, never quite
touching those stars,
but I am convinced
your fingers are stirring
the eddies and curls of the Milky Way

the stars glisten, as if the wind
or the wake of your arms
were making them shimmer,
just the way grama grass
comes alive in the breaths
of spring’s quickening

you twirl just as you did
a few hours ago on that sun-bright stage,
but here there is no clapping,
just my breath catching
as I recall that this is where
you first danced, here,
on this prairie stage –
these same stars, once and always
your audience, your footlights,
your first, and constant, inspiration

 

– Roy Beckemeyer edits a scientific journal and writes poetry and finds it curious and satisfying that the two are not mutually exclusive. He is the Vice President of Kansas Authors Club and a member of the Wayward Poets, a small, egalitarian group of Wichita writers who meet weekly to read and write out of a sense of commitment to one another, an effective antidote against writer’s block.

– August Guest Editor: William J. Karnowski is the author of seven books of poetry; Pushing the Chain, The Hills of Laclede, Painting the Train, Hardtails and Highways, Catching the Rain, Dispensation, and The Sodhouse Green. He has poetry published in Kansas Voices, The Midwest Quarterly, Begin Again: 150 Kansas Poems, Kansas Author Club Yearbooks and multiple website locations. Karnowski is the current State President of Kansas Authors Club.

After the Storm by Roy Beckemeyer

RoyBeckemeyerThe old pear tree
was on her side,
root fingers still grasping
the dark, wet earth
they had relied upon
for so many years.

We pulled the starters
of our chain saws,
bared her heartwood,
sent plumes of sawdust
to scent the air – incense
for a funeral.

As I paused at the crotch
where her most massive arm
still curved with aching grace,
I recalled the feeling of bark
rough against my back,
how I sat with my left leg dangled free,
and my right knee bent, foot
braced against that solid arc,
mind adrift on the fresh
intensity of ripe pear flesh.

We inhaled air taut with
the odor of sweet wood.
My dad wiped sweat from
his brow, looked at me,
and said, pointing,
Cut that branch off
right here.”

– Roy Beckemeyer edits a scientific journal and writes poetry and finds it curious and satisfying that the two are not mutually exclusive. He is the Vice President of Kansas Authors Club and a member of the Wayward Poets, a small, egalitarian group of Wichita writers who meet weekly to read and write out of a sense of commitment to one another, an effective antidote against writer’s block.

Ronda Miller, March’s Guest Editor, 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.

Ka·Santatieh by Roy Beckemeyer

For Bertha Ross Provost, 1890-1983Roy J Beckemeyer Photo

Her first nine years she spoke

only the language of the People.

Then came the day she was dragged off

to the white man’s school in Anadarko.

It was the time when the lands

north of the Washita River were “opened”

and the white settlers, the ista·hi?i,

poured from Kansas into Oklahoma

to take the lands of the People.

She had been called ka·santatieh,

“following with scalp,”

but now they called her Bertha.

She had been called tikammac,

“grinder of corn,”

but now she was called Bertha.

She held close the language of the People,

the kirikir?i·s, the Racoon-Eyed,

even as they forsook the tattoos

that gave them that name,

even as they forgot the proud

ways of the Wichita.

So many no longer understood.

Her children could hear,

but could not speak their language.

The People were becoming silent.

To dispel the great loneliness,

she spoke the ancient words

to the son of her grandson.

She told him the tales of the People,

how they were given

the great gift of corn, ni?ac?a.

She told tales of the animals –

of the crafty rabbit, kó·kis,

the clever coyote, k?ita·ks.

Now she is gone,

and there are only a few left

who can speak as she did.

They gather and try to recall the words

that she had used to bring the tale

of the Turtle, Buffalo and Coyote

to its end:

Ka:?a:wakhát?as k?íta:ks í·ri’ha·ss,”

she would say,

“There are times, when the coyotes,

they mourn…”

~ Roy Beckemeyer

Roy Beckemeyer has most recently had poems in the periodicals: Coal City Review, The Lyric, and The Journal of Kansas Civic Leadership; the anthologies: Begin Again: 150 Kansas Poems, and To The Stars Through Difficulties: A Kansas Renga in 150 Voices; and the web page: 200 New Mexico Poems.

David S. Rood (Professor of Linguistics, University of Colorado at Boulder) spent many years documenting the rapidly disappearing language of the Wichita people. In Sketch of Wichita, a Caddoan Language (David S. Rood, 1996. Pp. 580-608 In: Goddard, Ives (ed.) Handbook of North American Indians, Vol. 17: Languages. Washington: Smithsonian Institution) Rood related that Bertha Ross Provost was his primary assistant between 1964 and her death; she was one of the last fluent speakers of the Wichita language.

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