Poetry of Kansas Here & Now, There & Then

Posts tagged ‘Thomas Reynolds’

Hobo Code by Debbie Theiss

reunionI see him walk between railroad tracks,

black braids sway back and forth,

beads interwoven,

long fringed vest jangles,

entwined stones collide.
A dog, black and sleek nudges his leg at ready.

Above his head a metal rod with prongs

looms like a goalpost.

Two hawks perch

stately, poised.
Hunter? Wanderer?
I scramble to the railroad trestle

keeping him in sight,

grass bites bare legs,

my hand runs along outcropped rock,

traces charred hobo codes
left by transient workers

during the Great Depression,

lined drawings, meant to guide

simplistic signs

danger ahead, shelter, food.
Now draped across his back

the folded platform.

On his shoulders, the hawks hunker

yellow-banded curved beaks

yellow claws clutch.
Shelter taken in the shade

of persimmon trees that line the field’s edge.

His fingers probe the bark

small, square blocks

as if searching for signs.

~ Debbie Theiss

Footnote: During the Great Depression, nomadic workers traveled on freight trains to garner work that they could find, not spending too much time in any one town. A unique Hobo Code (hoboglyphics) was developed to communicate and give information about places to camp or find a meal or dangers that lay ahead. In Parsons, Kansas a quilt designed with hobo codes was auctioned during Katy Days in celebration of the strong heritage of freight life in Kansas.

Debbie Theiss is an emerging poet. She won 3rd place in the Japanese Haiku Festival Contest and published poems in the Skinny Journal, Paddle Shots: A River Pretty Anthology, Vol. 2, I-70 Review (September, 1016) and was accepted in Interpretations IV in Columbia, MO. She enjoys nature, bicycling, and gardening.

Thomas Reynolds is an associate English professor at Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, Kansas, and has published poems in various print and online journals, including New Delta Review, Alabama Literary Review, Aethlon-The Journal of Sport Literature, The MacGuffin, Flint Hills Review, and Prairie Poetry. Woodley Press of Washburn University published his poetry collection Ghost Town Almanac in 2008. His chapbook The Kansas Hermit Poems was published in 2013, and his sports-themed chapbook Small Town Rodeos was published by Spartan Press in 2016.

Western Kansas by Jenni Gribble

In western Kansas, the windjenni-gribble-photo

Drifts and the wheat drifts—

Nothing but a golden and fluttering expanse,

And there are no trees unless you plant them.

The old ripe grain, ready for the threshers,

The house was in such a place,

Flatter than flat,

Underneath a perfect sky.

~ Jenni Gribble

Jennie Gribble: “I was born in Ottawa, Kansas, and these poems are inspired by stories told by my ancestors, who settled Kansas in the 1800’s. I am a graduate student in English at Morehead State University, Kentucky, and a high school English teacher. My work has appeared in Inscape: Art and Literary Magazine.

Thomas Reynolds is an associate English professor at Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, Kansas, and has published poems in various print and online journals, including New Delta Review, Alabama Literary Review, Aethlon-The Journal of Sport Literature, The MacGuffin, Flint Hills Review, and Prairie Poetry. Woodley Press of Washburn University published his poetry collection Ghost Town Almanac in 2008. His chapbook The Kansas Hermit Poems was published in 2013, and his sports-themed chapbook Small Town Rodeos was published by Spartan Press in 2016.

The Soul of Kansas Might Be a Scream by Lindsey Martin-Bowen

You hear it late at night when the moonLindsey
becomes a sliver in someone’s dream,
and ripples in the lake settle
into streams lined with algae and bass.
It might come from John Brown’s ghost
or the specter haunting the WPA castle at Coronado Heights.
It could be wails from Bob Elliot, who died in a wreck
on the red trail winding down from the peak.
Perhaps it’s the lonely moan of a locomotive
over plains where fires break through nights.
Maybe the shriek emanates from the cemetery
edged by yuccas where the snow never stays,
or from the western ridge where wolves cry
and geese wing through wide, blood-red skies.

~ Lindsey Martin-Bowen

From Standing on the Edge of the World (Woodley Press 2008)

Lindsey Martin-Bowen’s “Bonsai Tree Gone Awry” (Inside Virgil’s Garage, Chatter House Press 2013) was nominated for a Pushcart. Woodley Press published Standing on the Edge of the World, named one of the Top 10 Poetry Books for 2008 (McClatchy). Paladin Contemporaries released three of her novels, and her poetry has run in New Letters, I-70 Review, Coal City Review, Thorny Locust, Flint Hills Review, Bare Root Review, The Same, Little Balkans Review, and others. She teaches at MCC-Longview.

Thomas Reynolds is an associate English professor at Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, Kansas, and has published poems in various print and online journals, including New Delta Review, Alabama Literary Review, Aethlon-The Journal of Sport Literature, The MacGuffin, Flint Hills Review, and Prairie Poetry. Woodley Press of Washburn University published his poetry collection Ghost Town Almanac in 2008. His chapbook The Kansas Hermit Poems was published in 2013, and his sports-themed chapbook Small Town Rodeos was published by Spartan Press in 2016.

An Apologia for This Pint of Boulevard Unfiltered Wheat by Cody Shrum

GusThe stars outside drink in

the Friday night and this Kansas

winter-cold glass—frothing

with dense foam that just kisses

both lemon wedges—

sweats like lovers down

to the waxed table and coaster and

the dim bar lights filter through ale that

glows like time-frozen sap to amber,

bronzed mosquitos caught mid-buzz.

Citrus and hops drift

behind the music,

up to my thirsty face,

and why the hell not?

~ Cody Shrumm

Cody Shrum is a second-year graduate student at Pittsburg State University, studying Creative Writing with an emphasis in fiction. Cody plans to pursue his MFA degree next fall—an adventure he will embark on with his wife, Kylee, and their two dogs, Zoey and Zeus.

Guest Editor Thomas Reynolds is an associate English professor at Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, Kansas, and has published poems in various print and online journals, including New Delta Review, Alabama Literary Review, Aethlon-The Journal of Sport Literature, The MacGuffin, Flint Hills Review, and Prairie Poetry. Woodley Press of Washburn University published his poetry collection Ghost Town Almanac in 2008. His chapbook The Kansas Hermit Poems was published in 2013, and his sports-themed chapbook Small Town Rodeos was published by Spartan Press in 2016.

Prairie Swimmer by Thomas Reynolds

Womb05_10_1

In pulsings of

Amniotic waves, she kicked in place,

Flipping fins with digits extended.

 

Turtle

Belly down on blue-green

Seaweed tangles of the living room floor,

Like an upturned turtle,

She waited for the tide

To carry her to the sea.

 

River

She points to the rock shaped like a platform

at the promontory tip and lowers goggles

over spot-flecked skin,

above goldfish eyes.

Frog-like, she leaps.

 

Winter

Walking the fencerow over frozen ground,

She tests her arms against the March wind,

One over the other

In a tight front crawl,

Racing for the gate.

 

Meet

Under the surface she becomes

Like the rest something other, a creature

Who senses some ancient tug

In the cells of her hands,

In her lungs.

 

Body

Her body is 70 percent water.

She is a small, compact lake

into which swimmers dive from a bluff

and do laps around the thirty percent island

guarded by a chain-link fence.

 

Prairie

After a swim in the creek,

Running in lush grass cresting above her head

White-capped by wind,

She leaps above waves

as if lunging for air

Before diving below again.

 

Sea

She paddles in a pond

Surrounded by rolling hills,

Once the bed of an ancient inland sea.

In mist, ghost fish

glide above her.

 

Pond

Tethys, Greek goddess of earth’s fresh waters,

Was mother to three thousand daughters.

One now wades ashore

From the blinding surface,

Returning to this life.

~ Thomas Reynolds

Thomas Reynolds is an associate English professor at Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, Kansas, and has published poems in various print and online journals, including New Delta Review, Alabama Literary Review, Aethlon-The Journal of Sport Literature, The MacGuffin, Flint Hills Review, and Prairie Poetry. Woodley Press of Washburn University published his poetry collection Ghost Town Almanac in 2008. His chapbook The Kansas Hermit Poems was published in 2013.

Kelly W. Johnston, guest editor, is a life-long Kansan, who was born in Lawrence in 1955, and graduated from Wichita State in 1977 with a major in creative writing. He has published poems in Mikrokosmos, The Cottonwood Review, and The Ark River Review. He will publish two poems in the up-coming 2016 issue of The I-70 Review. Kelly loves to spend time on his land in the Chautauqua Hills near Cross Timbers State Park, where many of his poems are inspired.

Wishes on an August Evening at Milford by Kelly W. Johnston

Heavy heat of the day escapes

on stiff winds across the lake.

Wish-laden catfish lines, like sirens,

draw me away from campfire,

wine, and your whispers.

 

You stand ashore alone,

lantern held high as I push off.

While rowing, you fade

to a lighthouse on a bleak coast.

 

My flashlight finally finds

a tenuous streak of limp line.

Grasping for dreams,

line trembles, tightens

and the lake is fighting back,

bouncing the bow of the boat,

spraying my face with froth.

Dark, churning depths stretch

line toward nightmare.

 

Until the catfish is netted.

A wet grin crosses my face

as I remember your light

beckoning my return.

~ Kelly W. Johnston

Thomas Reynolds is an associate English professor at Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, Kansas, and has published poems in various print and online journals, including New Delta Review, Alabama Literary Review, Aethlon-The Journal of Sport Literature, Sport Literate, The MacGuffin, Flint Hills Review, and Prairie Poetry. Woodley Press of Washburn University published his poetry collection Ghost Town Almanac in 2008. His chapbook The Kansas Hermit Poems was published in 2013. His work has received two Pushcart Prize nominations.

Kansas Creeks by Elizabeth Perdomo

A creek flows through me,

Down my arms & right

Out my muddy, wet

Fingertips…

Pulsing warm as blood,

Like the memory of song.

I proclaim my firm premise:

Every child, at some point in youth,

Should befriend or be

Befriended by

A creek.

My own former playmate

Still runs in Kansas; shallow,

Stoney & slow…

It curved playfully

Behind the pink-sided rental

Where we lived when I was but

5 years old.

It was there that I first studied

Aquaculture with diligent

Intensity & full

Wonder.

Learning habitats

Of crawdads, turtles & snails;

Observing lifecycles

Of frogs & toads

…from egg to tadpole

To gone…

The creek was alive.

Moss green covered stones

Sprinkled with small freshwater shellfish,

Stirred by outstretched strider bugs

& darting dragonflies.

Brilliant sun flashed

Backs from countless minnows,

Brushed bare toes, half sunk

In rich, slimy mud.

The creek called to me daily,

& I could not resist.

This creek,

Which once curved

My childhood afternoons,

Still remains in my

Bloodstream.

Now, my own daughters

Need a creek to live

Inside them

As friend & teacher

& a venue for few innocent

Crimes,

Offering

Them permission to explore

A world I can no longer

Easy enter,

& time to experience

Innocence which I can now

Scarcely envision.

They need a creek:

Flowing through their minds,

Down their arms & right

Out their muddy, wet

Fingertips.

~ Elizabeth Perdomo

Elizabeth Perdomo has lived and written in the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas these past fourteen years, moving to the region from the Rio Grande Valley of New Mexico. Born in Kansas, and raised both there and in Colorado, she has written poetry works since a young teen. Perdomo also lived in the Southeastern USA for a number of years. Her written pieces reflects on local place and culture, ecology and nature, traditions, spirituality and much more.

Thomas Reynolds is an associate English professor at Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, Kansas, and has published poems in various print and online journals, including New Delta Review, Alabama Literary Review, Aethlon-The Journal of Sport Literature, Sport Literate, The MacGuffin, Flint Hills Review, and Prairie Poetry. Woodley Press of Washburn University published his poetry collection Ghost Town Almanac in 2008. His chapbook The Kansas Hermit Poems was published in 2013. His work has received two Pushcart Prize nominations.

Tag Cloud