Daniel Spees






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Daniel SpeesDaniel Spees
teaches writing and literature full time at Hutchinson Community College, Hutchinson, Kansas.  He was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, grew up in Oregon and Washington, and has lived in Kansas since 1992.  Spees received his BA in English from Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington in 1989, his MA in English from Emporia State University in 1994, and obtained an MFA in Poetry Writing from Wichita State University in 1996.  He lives in Hutchinson with his wife and children.

Speesí poems have appeared in the Piedmont Literary Review, Quivira, Double Entendre, Mikrokosmos, Mississippi Mud, Thorny Locust, Coal City Review, Big Hammer, Poetry for the Masses, Blueline and others. 

A chapbook, Michelangelo's Snowman, was published by Oil Hill Press, Wichita, Kansas, 2006.






I. Tilling


From the nest, hastily built of dead grass,

hanging like a beard, the finch vanishes

in a convulsive racket of wings.


The hoe turns up rags and margarine tubs,

a porcelain insulator, a gear, a bone.

Trees have grown the wire fence into themselves

and wear it like wings.


II. Tarot


The iris leaves stand transplanted

like tarnished swords.  In the mower's wake,


upright but headless dandelion

wands shiver, and a cup in earth

remains where the rosebush once was. 


Coins of sunlight drop through new leaves

of Maple boughs as the drowned man

rises under the prodding


of the rake.  When the flood waters

reach the feet of the wheel-barrow

the empress will walk the south side


of town dressed in the withered skins

of last harvest, the gardener knows.


III. Furnace


Last frost subtracts into zeroes of rain.

The patch upturned for sunflowers, picked clean

by robins, holds broken sod like a tray


of loaves:  under its cold skin the earth burns.

The gardener pulls on soil-crusted gloves

when the rain stops, and though the air is black,


his face blazes under the unearthed light

as he digs.  Sweat leaves black tracks on his cheeks,

and the sunflowers grow already.


Originally published in Mikrokosmos





I wonder how my town,

there, brown and away

in fading light,

looks to the falling snow.

Gray arms of trees

reach into the sky.


Yellow lights flare

one by one as the flakes

spiral toward town.  I can think of my body

as disparate crystals,

each one as carefully filigreed


as a Tiffany lampshade.  My body sifts

through vaults of air,

alights everywhere, silences the streets,

stretches out along branches,


on the tops of walls.

My girlfriend says

that though I am deep

and quiet,

I am cold.

Like the snow,

I don't answer.


Originally published in Double Entendre










All poetry on this page
© by Daniel Spees
, 2006 




Ben will be reaching into his breast pocket

for a Marlboro.

I will get my arms around

the curving architecture

of his solid trunk,

broadened from labor,

and hug him back.

We'll walk from my apartment to my office

without one memory of silence,

two alcoholic brothers

being sober together a little,

thinking of this or that day,

laughing at some of them,

doing it all with charity,

pausing to stand with the same angel,

skirting the edge of the Catholic school,

finding a Pre-Mycenean bottle cap,

recalling eight different women,

embellishing six dirty tricks,

raking our bosses a bit,

his foreman, my director,

being almost tolerant of them, almost serene,

criss-crossing the streets to avoid dogs,

digging graves along the way,

picking a place on the gazebo steps,

the only one with any sun left,

climbing a ramp, frail and noisy,

narrow and cracked, boardwalk across train tracks,

incised eight times by the rails themselves,

gleamingly oblivious like our hands

as they dance with lit cigarettes--both of us thinking

the same thing, each of us hopping

our own freight, both of us telling

the same lame jokes, the city lights blurring,

fences zooming by, like being drunk,

both of us walking to the front steps of my building

so we can sit on a bench, so I can

show him where the gargoyles should be, so we can

look for monkeys in the tame sycamore

branches, the wildness lost--

trees inoculated and trees sedated--

wrapped in the center of a spreading quilt

of barnyards, pastures, hay fields, and towns

laid out in grids regular as the chain mesh

marking a playground--the baler patrols

the field in a constantly diminishing circle

just over the tree line and fifteen streets

from the campus where we sit, leaving one

package after another, bristling and hot,

to be hooked onto the flatbed and stacked

in the mow in heart-lurching heat, we sitting there

paring our nails, he with penknife,

me with stainless clippers, standing up

and smelling the hay, walking single file

until we reach the library, singing The Doors

all the way back, grasping at rain patiently,

grasping at wind, walking into the shadow,

seeing the last blue, seeing the last

crow, last sun.






All the leaves

are down, dead trees

like lightning

among the living.  We listen

to afternoon lyrics


and walk a beach

littered with beer cans, Thanksgiving,

and arguments.  Our eyes are beads,

wooden in a loop

of subject/object like the hill,

a cheek dotted with kisses, with graves.


Breath wears a glove

of fragility, a creek bed

lined with wool.  We cross the hay

field to the gate, kissing ice

off the rocks.


And later,

as we ascend the bridge's shoulder slope,

the moon a superabundant buttermilk balloon

above the silo, isn't it

the dead who are awake?


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