Pamela Yenser






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Pamela McMaster Yenser Pamela McMaster Yenser is a second-generation Kansan, conceived in the Sunflower State while her parents trained in Kansas City and Pittsburg as nurse and pilot during WWII, and born in Alexandria, Virginia, at the home of her paternal grandparents. She attended grade through graduate school in Wichita, attributing her early literary interests to Wichita Southeast High School teacher Lee Streiff and Iowa Workshop graduates Michael Van Walleghen and Mark Costello, who joined Bruce Cutler on the writing faculty of Wichita State University (WSU) in the late 1960s. She was contributing editor of Mikrokosmos at WSU, where she met and married native Kansan Jon Kelly Yenser. Witnesses to the Beat Era when Allen Ginsberg read at the Wichita Vortex in 1966, Pamela and Kelly were among the first English majors to submit creative writing theses at WSU, just before the start up of the Creative Writing Program.


Yenser is recipient of an American Academy of Poets Colleges and Universities Award from the University of Washington. Her work has been nominated for an AWP award and Pushcart Prize, and her poetry manuscript Bundle of Nerves has been acknowledged in the finals of national competitions such as the Many Voices Award at New Rivers Press. Yenser teaches writing at Central New Mexico Community College in Albuquerque.





Before my Dark Ages

I would go to visit it where it sat

oblately on its own rag rug, rabbit-ears

extended in a V to trap the airwaves, Old

Chief Gray Face, humming a crazy test tune.

What happened next was a leap of faith

like a hook in a cloud or an icy rake

of ice through heaven’s face.


If there was a warning nobody heard

but come it did: a purple wall cloud,

lightning, hail, and the low bang

of a big black freight train come

uncoupled across the plains–

or so said the ministry of storms

next morning in the Wichita Eagle–

and a high voice exhorting Mother

to give up Hollywood and be saved.

No more dancing. No TV. No sex.


I could not have been more astonished

if Lucy had burst out like a burning bush

and tumbled along with the Lone Ranger

through the footage of my Flint Hills

where the earliest yellow rose let go

her petals on the little brick road

past my home, mown like grass–

that shortcut spring once

took through Kansas.

Originally Published in: The Shocker (Summer 2002: Alumni
 magazine of Wichita State University)




Under spare willows a creek

winds up its invisible spring.

The sand, disturbed, rises.


By now our horses have stamped

an acre of hybrid strawberries,

tilted your fire fenceposts,


toppled the dam. To calm them,

we climb, creaking with leather,

the screw of the hard workroad.


We’re past the point of danger,

that drop-off that dropped

off the farmer with his load.


A hawk floats up. We stall

in a green crown of alfalfa,

shifting our own lazy weight


to the pulley of brown necks

reaching as far as they can;

nothing more to spoil our day


than sunset on our hands,

red and blue with berries wild

as the iris of your blue eyes blooming.


Deer!  You take me by surprise.

Green turns brown in the birch-blind.

Deer, you murmur, Deer.


The delicate birdnest tied

to my saddle flies apart–

straw into the wind–my souvenir!


You’re looking back, I’m holding on,

the horses break for home,

and the next day I am gone.

Originally Published in: Iowa Woman (7:2)



   All poetry on this page
© by Pamela Yenser
, 2011




Blame me. Blame history.

Or blame yourself if life lies

foul and love’s a mystery

(foul play!) that we realize


through our fingers in the dark–

like those leather-hard, hand-sewn

balls of flesh whose symbols mark

your sex–to each his own.


Now give me your hand–and glove.

Let me show you a softer mound,

greener fields empty with love,

a lighter stick to swing around.

You started this game in the first place,

bragging how you’d gotten to first base.

Originally Published in: Elysian Fields Quarterly
(18:3 Pushcart Nomination)






In Wichita, as far as I could see

the earth was round—one gigantic pie baked

until it cracked and grasshoppers escaped


with a ratcheting whir of legs, the sound

of mixer blades against a Pyrex bowl

or the slanted needle of Mother’s Singer


singing through the curtains someone tore.

Above the sound, the cumulus pile up

padded tornadic cells with hooks and eyes.


Who’s in charge up there? Mother Nature? Who’s

her husband? Is he my brother’s maker?

His bobbed brain won’t be growing back again.


What’s the cure? Cells from a live embryo,

I suppose; or, if given that political

mess, topical salve from our Mimosa—


a family tree so tuned to touch and light

her spine is a bundle of nerves, which, cut

or winterkilled, multiplies underground.


In the springtime of our yard she returns,

as much a livewire above as below.

Medusa child of the vegetable world,


feathered in leaves compounded and dangling

with pink earrings. She is called Wooly Bush,

Silk Tree, Siris, Sirius the Dog Star.


Serious! How can you be serious

my alter ego, my gorgon, my wild

red-headed remonstrance, dreaded, gorgeous.






Glitter dust and cotton-

wood seeds trapped


against the front screen—

Storm cellar open—


Evidence of broken saucers—

On a bedside


stand, a pineapple

ruffled doily—and in


a mason jar, smiling

a mother’s chattering teeth


Originally Published in: Nightbomb Review #2
(Portland 2010)


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