Poetry of Kansas Here & Now, There & Then

Posts tagged ‘Stephen Meats’

Sand Dollar by Tayler Klein

I. Ocean FloorKlein

Mom and I stand on Bradenton Beach.

The waves ripple over our feet like little hands,

and she tells me about her summers

growing up on the gulf with her Uncle Bebe

who had Daisy Duck tattooed on his calf,

and about his brother-in-law Booker

 

and how her Aunt Ada searched for sand

in the kitchen with her bare feet while

her Aunt Jenn paced the coastline when the uncles

were late coming home from fishing.

She told me how Aunt Ada and Aunt Jenn

never went into the water, but instead

 

sat on the porch with mason jars

of iced tea, perspiration beading like rain.

They’d told Mom the unbroken

sand dollar she found was magic

because it came from the dark ocean floor,

a place where no woman could ever walk.

 

II. Said Uncle Bebe to My Pre-Adolescent Mother:

Let me tell you, Jennifer Anne, about

The Woman of the Bay of Mobile.

 

She comes up from the ocean

during storms—after the waves

are big enough to tip the jon boats—

walking on water like Jesus Christ himself.

 

Booker told me his daddy told him

The Woman of the Bay of Mobile

was a dead Spaniard’s pregnant wife.

Booker said she drowned during a shipwreck

before Alabama was a state. Still searching,

now she comes up with the salt wind during storms.

 

And Jennifer Anne, I wanted to know why

Booker was telling me this about ladies

and ghosts when neither of them have a place

on our boats. He said he thought I should know

whether I wanted them in my bay or not,

they were already here.

 

III. Casting Nets

In high school, Mom brought Dad to the bay.

She told him how one morning,

on her way to cast the nets with Uncle Bebe

and Uncle Wayne, she found the sand dollar

whole and hidden in the shadows

of the gray sunrise. She left it

in the sea grass growing

at the foot of the dunes by their trailer.

 

All morning, she’d cast the nets

until her jaw was sore from holding

the gray metal ring between her teeth,

and her uncles praised her deft movements:

just like a man’s.

 

When the boat was full of fish, they went home

and she found the sand dollar

where she left it, took it back up to the house

and laid it on her still flat chest

while she waited to fall asleep.

 

This year, she was ready to show Dad

everything she knew about fishing and casting

and foraging on the coast, but this time

the uncles wouldn’t take her. If she was old enough

for a man, that made her a woman.

Women didn’t cast nets.

 

Then she became my mother,

and at three, I held the sand dollar to my ear,

wanted to know why the warm star wouldn’t sing

to me like the other shells did.

She said on the trip to the beach

holes had been poked like little eyes

at the hands and feet of the star.

She said these holes let the song out.

 

IV. A Love Story

When my mother tells me the legend of

The Woman of the Bay of Mobile, she says

she doesn’t think the ghost woman searches

for her husband, but her unborn daughter.

Aunt Aida and Aunt Jenn let that slip one morning,

after the uncles had left, like it was some great secret.

 

And here is the strangeness of it: Mom and I stand

on Bradenton Beach, miles from where she became

a woman that summer with her aunts and uncles,

but we still look at the same ocean. I think,

as she bends over the shallow water and

scoops up shells brought new from the waves,

her voice conversational, the ghost woman

a mere fact, that this too is a love story:

a woman and her belly. What grew

behind the ghost woman’s navel was brewed

by wind and sun, seasoned by white sand and weaved

from her hair, still glossy with salt water.

~Tayler Klein

Tayler Klein, a Montessori school teacher, received her MA in Creative Writing from Pittsburg State University in 2014. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in such publications as Nimrod International Journal, Analecta, Lalitamba, Inscape, Glassworks, and The Midwest Quarterly. Tayler lives in Kansas City, Missouri, with her husband, her dog, and shelves full of books.

Stephen Meats, recently retired from teaching and administration at Pittsburg State University, is the author of a mixed genre collection of poems and stories, Dark Dove Descending and Other Parables (Mammoth Publications, 2013) and a collection of poems, Looking for the Pale Eagle (Woodley Press, 1993; expanded edition, Mammoth Publications, 2014). His poems, stories, and scholarly writings have appeared in numerous print and online publications, including more than two dozen articles on Whitman, Faulkner, and other writers in The Literary Encyclopedia. He has been poetry editor of The Midwest Quarterly since 1985. For his guest editorship, in addition to poems with Kansas associations, he asked contributors to submit work dealing with shore birds and water birds, if moved to do so, in recognition of his and his wife Ann’s recent move to Florida.

Wild Geese by Shelly Krehbiel

after Mary OliverKrehbiel

Maybe I don’t have to be good, but I

still want to be so badly. Tonight taking

out the trash had to come before making

dinner, had to make some suffering kind

 

of sense after so many hours with my

eyes at a glowing screen. Tonight taking

out trash was all I had of making

any kind of difference. There was trash. I
took it out. Grey-orange clouds held almost

rain. Then a noise, a solicitation,

a squawking calling me to seek it out.
I have never found the North Star. Its hope

comes and goes. But, a carnal direction

calls these geese home. I almost see it now.

~Shelly Krehbiel

Shelly Krehbiel, a Kansas native, grew up on a wheat farm in Lane County north of Garden City. She holds a BA from Pittsburg State University and an MFA from Antioch University Los Angeles. Her poems appear or are forthcoming in The Midwest Quarterly, Sulphur River Literary Review, and The Fourth River. She currently lives in Eugene, Oregon, where she works as a manager in the travel industry.

Stephen Meats, recently retired from teaching and administration at Pittsburg State University, is the author of a mixed genre collection of poems and stories, Dark Dove Descending and Other Parables (Mammoth Publications, 2013) and a collection of poems, Looking for the Pale Eagle (Woodley Press, 1993; expanded edition, Mammoth Publications, 2014). His poems, stories, and scholarly writings have appeared in numerous print and online publications, including more than two dozen articles on Whitman, Faulkner, and other writers in The Literary Encyclopedia. He has been poetry editor of The Midwest Quarterly since 1985. For his guest editorship, in addition to poems with Kansas associations, he asked contributors to submit work dealing with shore birds and water birds, if moved to do so, in recognition of his and his wife Ann’s recent move to Florida.

Leon County by Rebecca R. Bauman

Now I think of Charon, gristle-eyed and chalk-haired,rbauman2
hoisting his terrible oar, thunking
the souls who refused to cross with him the waters
of Acheron. And weren’t these sulfuric waters hellish—
the color of bile and smelling of unkempt chicken coops;
dull, phlegmish clouds suddenly appearing

and crawling along the spring-bottom, as if the very sands
were scrambling to surface for air?
But back then, I trusted Leonard, the stove-up old
cowboy making an extra buck
in the summer months, ferrying us kids in the back of his
pickup truck to north Florida’s out-of-the-way

swimming holes (small and stagnant though they could be). Still,
when we came to this sulfur spring, I saw
strangers: young women—the sopping hems of their cotton
sundresses bunched high between their thighs—
wading in the water and washing their hair. We lingered
on the water’s edge, trying not to stare—

waited with the ibises, their strange mesmeric nodding as they
dipped and dipped their slivered carrot beaks into the mud.
Eventually, the sodden naiads emerged, wrapped their heads in old
T-shirts or dish towels. They climbed barefoot
up the banks, disappearing into weathered, idling trucks parked
along the little overpass that shadowed the creek

Leonard then said it was our turn, and no child hesitated to lurch
out into the sepia-green spring, or tumble
from the ledge of the crumbling bridge or canopy of moss-tinseled trees.
Save me. I told Leonard I’d gotten my period,
and would he mind if I sat in the truck? He shrugged, turned away,
and peed on a rock as I passed.

~ Rebecca R. Bauman

In 2007, while an undergraduate at Pittsburg State University, Rebecca R. Bauman received an Editorial Fellowship at Esquire, and while working at the magazine, she slowly realized her interest in journalism was not as strong as her affection for poetry. She graduated from PSU in 2010 with a BA in English/Creative Writing and was awarded a graduate assistantship at the University of Florida, where, while earning her MFA in Poetry Writing, she was named one of University of Virginia Press’s “Best New Poets,” as well as the recipient of UF’s 2012 Calvin A. VanderWerf Award for Excellence in Graduate Instruction, the first in the history of the Creative Writing program to earn this honor. Since graduating in 2013, she’s moved to the Florida countryside with her native-Kansan man-companion, seven dogs, four cats, and a very large parrot. This fall she will start work on her PhD in Children’s Literature and Culture, also at UF

Stephen Meats, recently retired from teaching and administration at Pittsburg State University, is the author of a mixed genre collection of poems and stories, Dark Dove Descending and Other Parables (Mammoth Publications, 2013) and a collection of poems, Looking for the Pale Eagle (Woodley Press, 1993; expanded edition, Mammoth Publications, 2014). His poems, stories, and scholarly writings have appeared in numerous print and online publications, including more than two dozen articles on Whitman, Faulkner, and other writers in The Literary Encyclopedia. He has been poetry editor of The Midwest Quarterly since 1985. For his guest editorship, in addition to poems with Kansas associations, he asked contributors to submit work dealing with shore birds and water birds, if moved to do so, in recognition of his and his wife Ann’s recent move to Florida.

Sea Birds by Kevin Rabas

RabasMy car’s radiator broken, the engine overheat light on,
we pull off the road and look at the ocean,
two young Kansans on vacation, nearly to New Orleans.
Bea says, “Look at those birds,” and our eyes swift
to the grey-tipped terns, their wings lazy Vs,
they drift on the winds above the white-capped sea.
They float, and our hands come together, clasp,
as if taken together by wind, and our troubles dissolve,
like sugar into water, and I tell Bea, if the radiator
catches on fire, I’ll take our patch-work quilt, douse
it in our jug of water, smoother, and, like that,
the fire of our lips is doused with a kiss.

~Kevin Rabas

Kevin Rabas co-directs the creative writing program at Emporia State University and co-edits Flint Hills Review. He has six books: Bird’s Horn, Lisa’s Flying Electric Piano (a Kansas Notable Book and Nelson Poetry Book Award winner), Spider Face, Sonny Kenner’s Red Guitar (also a Nelson Poetry Book Award winner), Eliot’s Violin, and Green Bike (a group novel).

Stephen Meats, recently retired from teaching and administration at Pittsburg State University, is the author of a mixed genre collection of poems and stories, Dark Dove Descending and Other Parables (Mammoth Publications, 2013) and a collection of poems, Looking for the Pale Eagle (Woodley Press, 1993; expanded edition, Mammoth Publications, 2014). His poems, stories, and scholarly writings have appeared in numerous print and online publications, including more than two dozen articles on Whitman, Faulkner, and other writers in The Literary Encyclopedia. He has been poetry editor of The Midwest Quarterly since 1985. For his guest editorship, in addition to poems with Kansas associations, he asked contributors to submit work dealing with shore birds and water birds, if moved to do so, in recognition of his and his wife Ann’s recent move to Florida.

The Winter Dragon by Rawdon Tomlinson

IMG_1559(Professor O. C. Marsh Dreaming

His First Pterodactyl, 1870-71)

 

I cut the cross again twilight

into Cretaceous yellow chalk

marking the spot I find

the bone I’ve never seen

 

and measure its 6 ½”

again, thin as a whistle,

hollow with air like a bird’s,

a human’s little finger—

 

rain, wind and snow weather

the bank along the Smoky Hill River

and the prairie night is dark,

wide as its ruins of lost sea—

 

I wrap the bone in cotton

wrapped in paper and lock

inside my cabinet

and calculate again;

 

hopefully cautious, breathless,

I crawl up the soft rock in spring

with hunting knife and brush

of buffalo grass, the dragon

 

magically completing itself

in my hands that fit its long

wings’ metacarpals one by one

into my estimated twenty-foot span!—

 

the first specimen from America—

I add the little fingers and claws

to wings, its body no bigger than a cat’s,

and stretch the frame with a membrane

 

like a bat’s, then set it walking

elbows and knees, wings folded,

still-hunting like a heron,

or soaring, its reptilian brain

 

tracking giant shadows of sharks

and Mosasaurs driving schools

to fear-dance the surface—

kite-light, blown into waves,

 

settled in the stone of my night’s sea,

where again I mark the spot

with an illiterate’s “X,”

signing for uncertain passage.

~Rawdon Tomlinson

Rawdon Tomlinson, a retired teacher of English and Creative Writing, earned a Ph.D. from the University of Denver.  In addition to three chapbooks, his award-wining full-length collections are Deep Red (U Press of Florida, 1995), Geronimo After Kas-Ki-Yeh (Louisiana State U Press, 2007), and Lines from the Surgeon’s Children, 1862-1865 (National Federation of State Poetry Societies Press, 2010). His poems regularly appear in such magazines as Sewanee Review, Massachusetts Review, New Letters, Ploughshares, and Shenandoah. Among other anthologies, his work is included in New Poets of the American West, Many Voices (2010). He lives with his wife Karen, a painter, in Portland, Oregon, close to their three daughters and granddaughter.

IMG_0782Stephen Meats, recently retired from teaching and administration at Pittsburg State University, is the author of a mixed genre collection of poems and stories, Dark Dove Descending and Other Parables (Mammoth Publications, 2013) and a collection of poems, Looking for the Pale Eagle (Woodley Press, 1993; expanded edition, Mammoth Publications, 2014). His poems, stories, and scholarly writings have appeared in numerous print and online publications, including more than two dozen articles on Whitman, Faulkner, and other writers in The Literary Encyclopedia. He has been poetry editor of The Midwest Quarterly since 1985. For his guest editorship, in addition to poems with Kansas associations, he asked contributors to submit work dealing with shore birds and water birds, if moved to do so, in recognition of his and his wife Ann’s recent move to Florida.

The Blue Horse by Lori Baker Martin

Lori fullsz-2_ResolutionPlusThe side door bangs open

and bangs closed.

Dust walks across

the wooden floors.

There’s nothing here for me

since the twister came

and collected the hazels

and the barn

and the cows

and the chickens.

It even scraped at the dirt

with blunt knuckles,

gouging away grass

and flowers

and corn.

It tore off the roof

and took everything inside

but me, in the rank water,

in the basement.

Afterward, in the silent dusk,

I crawled out

to the mud

and the splinters

and the death.

A few sparrows began to sing.

The blue horse came up

from the pasture

like a miracle, he stood

at the fence and tossed

his long head.

I wiped away the mud

From my face

And opened the gate.

The bird songs were sweet.

And here was the blue horse.

I reached for him,

but he exhaled,

and blew out dust

and inhaled and drew

in sparrows

and flew away,

the last of the sun

glinting off his black hooves.

~Lori Baker Martin

Lori Baker Martin is assistant professor of English at Pittsburg State University. 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. Martin has taught creative writing at the University of Iowa, Pittsburg State University, and Independence Community College. She has worked as a reader for both The Iowa Review and NPR. She is a founding member of the Astra Arts Festival in Independence, KS, and was director of the visiting writers’ series at ICC. Martin has won awards for her work in The Cincinnati Review and Kansas Voices.  She 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.

IMG_0782Stephen Meats, recently retired from teaching and administration at Pittsburg State University, is the author of a mixed genre collection of poems and stories, Dark Dove Descending and Other Parables (Mammoth Publications, 2013) and a collection of poems, Looking for the Pale Eagle (Woodley Press, 1993; expanded edition, Mammoth Publications, 2014). His poems, stories, and scholarly writings have appeared in numerous print and online publications, including more than two dozen articles on Whitman, Faulkner, and other writers in The Literary Encyclopedia. He has been poetry editor of The Midwest Quarterly since 1985. For his guest editorship, in addition to poems with Kansas associations, he asked contributors to submit work dealing with shore birds and water birds, if moved to do so, in recognition of his and his wife Ann’s recent move to Florida.

Stranger Creek by Susan Rieke

Sr_Susan_coverLearning the ways of county roads, driving and winding, lengths

play baffling tricks, three circles and back to the beginning. Road signs

 

anchor the driver with location, false security. Around and around,

the Kansas way is replicated in its waterways and creeks. Here

 

in the eastern state, three counties host the spider crawl of Stranger

Creek. A car can drive for miles and miles, and suddenly

 

a familiar sign, Stranger Creek here and there, round and round, pops

ups, no stranger this Stranger Creek. Spanning three counties, it

 

might be searching, its origin or is it eternal circle? Angry summers

have pulled it out of its rock-shelf borders to make oceans of fields,

 

fields of oceans. What does this ubiquitous might find? Is Stranger

Creek and stranger to itself, one year this mass of water, one year

 

choking on dust? The science men say it’s polluted with animal

matter from large farms. Perhaps the creek looks for another time

 

when it made swimming holes for children too far from towns,

lonely like the creek. Perhaps it smells chemicals now when it once

 

took the sweet, acrid odor of occasional manure and sent it

farmhouses. Hot by summer day, frozen by winter moons,

 

this creek has stories to entertain and soothe the soil with its wet,

wet tickle. Stranger Creek, resident of three counties, resides well.

~Susan Rieke

Susan Rieke, S.C.L., Ph.D., is a Professor of English holding the McGilley Chair for Liberal Studies at the University of Saint Mary in Leavenworth, Kansas.  She has published three books of poetry, Small Indulgences, From the Tower (with Mary Janet McGilley, S.C.L., and Michael Paul Novak), Ireland’s Weather (chapbook), and poems in magazines. She does numerous poetry readings in the greater Kansas City area. Through the Kansas Humanities Council, she has given talks on Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman and led book discussions throughout Kansas.

IMG_0782Stephen Meats, recently retired from teaching and administration at Pittsburg State University, is the author of a mixed genre collection of poems and stories, Dark Dove Descending and Other Parables (Mammoth Publications, 2013) and a collection of poems, Looking for the Pale Eagle (Woodley Press, 1993; expanded edition, Mammoth Publications, 2014). His poems, stories, and scholarly writings have appeared in numerous print and online publications, including more than two dozen articles on Whitman, Faulkner, and other writers in The Literary Encyclopedia. He has been poetry editor of The Midwest Quarterly since 1985. For his guest editorship, in addition to poems with Kansas associations, he asked contributors to submit work dealing with shore birds and water birds, if moved to do so, in recognition of his and his wife Ann’s recent move to Florida.

Tag Cloud