by Lois Virginia Walker
Flatlands gave me a gift.
I’d like to say what it was
Not to have been born near water
Where salt solution spreads on sand;
Not to have been rocked in a cradle
Of mountains or put on top of a view;
Not to have been lost in the forest
With Hansel and Gretel, holding hands.
I was pushed by the wind,
On my feet pushing back
I was small in the wind
That would keep coming back.
Say the flat horizon of a child’s
Sketch leaves more to wind and sky,
Stretches out for every tree
And tulip added. . .offered up
To unsalted, never cornered air.
A Kansan Visits New York City
By Al Ortolani
When the neighbor’s dog
barks in the rain
at the wind
in the vines of honeysuckle,
you remember the crowd
rippling down Mulberry Street
Like leaves on a fence row
into a rope of green,
an occasional blossom
lifting from the braid.
Previously published in
The Little Balkan's Review
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by Carolyn Hall
My headlights trace an asphalt seam
through deserted Flint Hills.
Night air hints of sweet embers.
An orange halo crowns the next rise.
Radiant flames bookend my path.
Yellow-capped crimson streaks
dance into a moonless sky. Mesmerized
by the celestial flare, I slow to watch
the ebb and flow of the serpentine blaze.
Amber glazed clouds of smoke cascade
around me. Purged by fire,
sustains through generations.
Past and present converge:
Sacred space, holy dimension,
nature's pyre unleashes primal essence.
Buffalo hooves thunder. Shadows
of wild mustangs stampede through the hills.
Night birds take flight above
haunting melodies of cedar flutes.
Earth drum beats native rhythm, distant
voices chant stories into the future,
past the mirage of the moment,
beyond the speed limit of sight.
Noticing Two Cedars
by kl barron
compressing all they know
in shaggy directions
that branch the sky
into jagged blue pieces
I do not know
the weedy history
among the grasses
with a preference for religion
placed them there, I suppose,
to catch the chill off the wind
when it blew down the hills
of the prairie
These trees have meditated long
to get by
with what they didn’t need
only the task has kept them upright
and sneering coyotes
with their dribbles of time
I didn’t notice them
until they called to me
with their almost visible voices
through the mist
of an ancient civilization
they appeared in the distance
two hunchbacked sentinels
Except for the stones
of a ruined fence
they were alone
I stood on the silent grasses
and ashes of others
I did not remember
anything but the cedars’
and the blue between
It is good to have a body
to move around in
Now when I follow the trail
peering over the further hills
and they hold me
with their being
By Sally Jadlow
Pink dawn creeps
across Kansas prairie.
Reveals rusty rolling hills,
peppered with grazing cattle,
tall signal towers,
and pumping oil wells.
Clumps of trees
give up their brilliant fall colors
to the full light of day.
Static starlings fill power lines
perched like so many
finely-worked french knots.
On silent signal
in fanciful dance.
Clusters of scrub cedars
stand shoulder to shoulder
winter snow drifts.
Placid ponds reflect
peaceful skies streaked
with gauze-like clouds.
High tension lines
march single file
across brown landscape.
Hold millions of volts
in their insulated hands
to deliver light into dark places.
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By Barry R Barnes
Crest of a small hill
Eyes to the sky
Parade of clouds slowly roll by
Some in the shape of things I recognize
Green grass under my back
Cool I’m relaxed
Lazy smile I can see for miles
I put my head back
Shut my lids for a while
Motionless I lie
Experiencing a drug free Kansas high.
By R. Ossiya
Look, how flagrant--how unrestrained
the weeds and other wild things
that grow in my front yard!
From all around, my land draws rabbit babies--
its clover, buffalo grass, bindweeds,
wild onions, and dandelion greens
all tossed together in one big salad surprise.
There is something vaguely unfriendly--
faintly dangerous, even--
lurking in alien lawns of fescue and Bermuda grass,
and all the rabbit babies know it.
That is why they hop on past my neighbors' yards
on their merry way to mine.
All poetry on this page
Copyright © by their authors - 2006, 2007
by William J. Karnowski
outside of me is dawn
at first the birds celebrate
blue birds after blue birds
rain crows make their predictions
from the arena of the lek
and the mocking bird lies
the second verse is the muffled
roar of the six-legged multitudes
honey bees massage the petals
satisfying that single sweet tooth
the yellow jackets menace
an innocent butterfly passerby
the grasshoppers chew tobacco
helicopter flies proudly hover
but the middle of the morning
belongs to the meadowlark
singing, "who the hell are you?"
asking, "who the hell are you?"
Looking From Seventh Floor
By Emma Miller
It is night and Wichita is all lights—
Bright white mercury vapors,
Yellow high-pressure sodiums,
Ambers and reds.
Headlights move along the Canal route.
Street with steady traffic flow must be Kellogg.
That thick aggregate of lights
Could be downtown Wichita
Where they drag Douglas.
A flashing red light just now appeared.
Where did it come from?
Someone else is asking that question
As he waits---
What will happen?
It is night and Wichita is all lights—
Steady stalwart sentinels
On guard through the night.
I watch from my window.
by Robert D. Carey
Gritty, stubborn pioneers
Settling on Kansas plains;
Persisting through cycles
Of dreams and despair.
Grasshoppers, cinch bugs,
Blizzards and droughts;
Prairie fires, crop failures,
Loneliness and isolation.
Facing it all head on
By faith and strong will,
by R.D. McManes
gazing over the plains,
a sequence of
wave after wave,
each appears to pause
before the next
of grass smoke
orange flashes of light
beneath a Kansas sky.
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Between the Mo & the Kaw
by William Patterson
From Atchison's north in darkness
bundled from night-cold
& not recovered from sleep
I am hardly at the wheel
sliding past landmarks
scarcely visible in early dim
old farm oak reminds me
to be mindful of path.
I bend west in time
before making my first full swerve
for half an hour.
Then, stopping at a cross-
in all directions,
I bear, finally, east
my last straight course
before two more bends
south again &
a river crossing.
Some days I meet the sun
over the eastern bluff
just a mile south of Lawrence,
yesterday it rose above the Kaw.
Today, I beat it up,
my chest pounding from cold,
exiting my car, reflecting
all the impossible promises a working day.
When it is done,
I will climb back in for the return:
same path: new direction
over the same river still going.
The sun will close behind me
& a light in a small house
on a small hill will welcome me
By Larry Powers
Wave upon wave the herds wandered
across vast plains, endless prairies,
stretching out, reaching to the horizon.
The earth trembled beneath hooves;
the noise of their bellowing echoed,
thousands of voices blended as one.
Tromping through valleys, o’er hilltops,
en masse, moving slowly, methodically,
single bodies crowding, indistinguishable,
into the huddled legions of rolling fur.
Clouds of dust and swarms of flies
followed them into ancestral grounds.
They roamed freely, proud and unfettered,
preyed upon by the skillful Plains Indians,
who sought only a source of sustenance:
meals to appease their hungry bellies
and furs for warmth against winter freeze,
thankful hunters, taking only for need.
Then the intruders came, pleasure hunters,
torturing, slaughtering wave upon wave
for the mere joy of sport, the thrill kill.
Skinners, for pay, ripped away precious fur
leaving pile upon pile of bleached bones
and decaying flesh, the smell of death.
Putrid landfills, naked corpses rotting,
bones scattered across ancestral lands,
until they returned back to the dust.
Gone, the once great herds are no more,
the sound of the bellowing, the trembling
diminished and fragmented, a lost voice.
Now, but a few of these great buffalo remain
of what once formed the huddled legions,
a remnant, protected on reserves, fettered.
Hired mercenaries, ruthless marauders,
leaving bones of ancestors piled in heaps,
brought the herd to the edge of extinction.
Ride with the Top Down
By Wilma Weant Dague
Think how impossible it is to love Kansas. No ocean, no mountains. This summer, no significant rain for weeks. We take a ride in your MGB convertible on a blazing day. Here on the right-- stunted corn, brown with tassels sprouting shoulder high. On the left, a
crop of soybeans barely measurable in height. Above the blue astounds. Puff ball clouds drift across the sky.
Five miles out and five miles back -- after all the kids are home alone--though the neighbors are awake and the kids know 911. Dust flies up in the gravel-topped turnaround, clings to the new wax. We pause for a minute on the concrete bridge to ponder a brown
stream that trudges along. So this is Kansas. A few people even call it big sky country.
Back at the four-way, three white vehicles approach from each of the other directions. A pick-up and two non-descript sedans. And there we are, a slice of ripe red tomato against the tan and white-grained earth.
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