Kevin Rabas



Kevin Rabas



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Kevin Rabas, an Assistant Professor, teaches creative writing and literature at Emporia State University, is co-editor of Flint Hills Review, and writes for Jazz Ambassador Magazin (JAM). He has also taught English and Creative Writing at the University of Missouri at Kansas City, K-State, The University of Kansas, and Johnson County Community College.

The 2005 winner of the Langston Hughes Award for Poetry, Rabas'  poetry has appeared in The Malahat Review, Mid-America Poetry Review, Mochila Review, Coal City Review, Prairie Journal, Red Rock Review, River King, Rockhurst Review and many others.

Rabas has led creative writing workshops at the Wyandotte County Juvenile Detention Center, and has been the host for reading series at nursing homes and assisted living centers in both Kansas and Missouri; some of the reading events include music--poetry + guitar.  In the summer of 2007, Rabas' first book of poetry was released, Bird's Horn & Other Poems, published by Coal City Review Press (Lawrence.)







Eden or Lucas, Kansas

 --as told by my uncle, Charles Keller, who gives tours of the place

    “You know where I live? I live right next door to the Garden of Eden.
     Up the way’s Paradise, and you go down about a half a mile and you
     end up in Hell Crick.”
--My grandmother, Bertha (Keller) Rabas


Your father’s mother’s people lived not far

from where old Dinsmoor lies now.

Your grandmother

fed old Dinsmoor’s badgers gingersnaps

Sunday mornings while Dinsmoor mixed cement.


Some called it sacrilege,

some sacrament.


But Dinsmoor was 64,

and figured the Lord

would forgive,

knowing he had so few

flexible years left to live.

Already he was stiffening.


Evenings, before turning in,

Dinsmoor worked

backyard aloe balm

into the cracks in his hands,

fearing his fingers just might crumble

under his wife’s pillow during the night.


He’d spent his whole life

planning the place,

the cabin stacked and mortared

using concrete logs,

the ziggurat for his body

and the body of his wife,

the shed, the garage, the planter,

and Eden above.


Every year,

while Dinsmoor built out back,

we had to borrow

just to put the wheat

back into the ground.


I thought what he built

would last forever.

However, at the start of autumn

when it rains

you can see the faces

of Dinsmoor’s statues

erode so slowly

it pricks your own skin

to watch.


No one knows

how to mix the mortar,

no one learned the secret,

so the arms are falling off of Cain,

the legs off Abel,

the breasts of their wives

are crumbling, Adam’s cane is crooked,

Eve’s hair has fallen,

and the snake’s in need

of complete repair.


Originally Published in The Malahat Review, 1999


All poetry on this page
© by
Kevin Rabas, 2006 


An Exam

I watch for that fire

the eye might be kindling

when a student looks up and knows—

pencil perpendicular to the paper,

or at a slant, pencil raised,

a thought at work, then wicking

through the wood

and into the lead.


The answers are somewhere above us, rising

somewhere near the surface of the faces

of the honeycombed fluorescent lights,

or traveling through

the winding tunnels

of the brain, arriving now

in a synapse flash, now jotted

on college ruled paper,

something I will read later

as the crows glide by

out the window, diving sometimes,

landing and congregating,

picking at something

struggling in the road.


Forthcoming in Poetic Hours, Summer 2006


Clothes Left in Washer


I’d go at once to meet you,

only I’d check

my eyes in the mirror

to make certain they pierced,

to make certain they could go absolutely cool—

as smoke, as brushes on drum head,

as breathy ballad,

or in the way John Coltrane

played the tune Naima

for her for the last time.


Red dress,

frog-buttoned in back,

geisha dress

that stopped your rival’s wedding,

dress that kept you

from being invited to mine;

red dress,

I forgive, I invite you.

Parade on in.

Hold every curve

as a hand would.

Palm and lift up.

As you pass, know I will remember

that last hot bath you ran me,

when I returned

through the thunderstorm

for the clothes we left

in your apartment’s quarter washer,                  

that afternoon when you told me:                      

You can stay. We can love.                             


Originally published in Kiosk, Fall 2005





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