Kansas Poems
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Poem Title & Poet

Poem Title & Poet

 
Almanac --by Amy Fleury

Bird Song --by Rosemary Parsons Torrez

Deserted Farm --by Roderick Townley

Farming, Death...
--Susan Kinney-Riordan

Hawk Music --by Maril Crabtree

Heavenly Gift --by Nancy Julien Kopp

Kansas Coastline --Amber Clontz

Lake -- by Daniel Spees


 

  
On Roniger Hill -- by Steven K. Nagle

 

Prairie Idyl -- by Mark Scheel

Prairie Quilting --by Stephen Meats

Remembrance --by Duane L. Herrmann

Remnants --by Rachel Johnson

Summer Night --by Steven Hind

Under Kansas --by William Sheldon

Vacant Lot - Colony, KS --by Max Yoho

Wamego --by Lori Stratton
 

   


A Prairie Quilting
 
by Stephen Meats


K-96 highway north and west of Fredonia climbs
and quickly crests a bluff, and stretching
away from this high point the smoking fields
of corn and wheat and oats and milo and soybeans,
and bluestem pastures, and ditches full of larkspur
and goldenrod and sunflowers and bindweed
form a pattern like a giant log-cabin quilt,
and the trucks and the cars traveling the roads
and the tractors trailing plumes of dust
above the fields seem shuttles weaving a fabric,
and the air is full of scissortails
and meadowlarks and swallows all weaving,
and the legs of killdeer running through the pastures
and of bobwhite scurrying into plum thickets
and of herons stalking frogs along Fall River
are like quick needles stitching,
and men on foot or horseback or behind plow mules
or in haymows or on combines or corn pickers
are stitching, and women with rifles
in the doors of dugouts and in the barns
milking or at their looms or laboring
over writing desks or cook stoves or sickbeds
are stitching, and men and women together,
man the needle and woman the cloth, in love,
or perhaps lust, or even force or hate or fear
are stitching, stitching, always on the edge
stitching together this patchwork of generations
and land, and the tension:  too tight
and the thread will snap or the fabric cut,
too loose and the seams won't hold.

--first published in Albatross (1990); reprinted in
Looking for the Pale Eagle (Woodley Press, 1993).

Read More Poems by Stephen Meats


---------------------------

 

The Deserted Farm

 by Roderick Townley
 

Who leaned the broken mirror

against the barn

knew more than he let on

about the mis-

behavior of moonlight.

 

Years now since men

left the fields to the luck of foxes,

and left the locks

to rust on unhinged doors.

 

Still this last artifice,

this final point of order,

the glass tilted

to survey a weather vane,

the tops of sycamores,

 

and doubled heaven hung

with chandeliers.


(Finalist, Allen Ginsberg Poetry Awards)
Read More Poems by Roderick Townley

 

----------------------------------
 

Hawk Music
by Maril Crabtree

 

Feathers spread into fingers,

hawk falls with the wind,

spiraling down as if caught

in a place of no hope –

 

a daredevil’s pitch, do-or-die.

 

Now hawk lifts again, drifting

where hope and wind

take him, whistling,

into the strumming air, filled

 

with a cloudless lullaby.

 

Listen as symphony’s

sweeping sounds pour unbound

from his flapping wings,

singing and swinging

 

across an arpeggio sky.

 
--------------------------

 

Bird Song

by Rosemary Parsons Torrez
 

The meadowlark trills a Kansas call

Blending its early morning song

Hidden - where grasses still stand tall

Sun rises quickly - with early dawn

 

Blending its early morning song

The plump - breasted robins arrive

Sunrises quickly - with early dawn

Summer sweeps in - warm and alive

 

The plump - breasted robins arrive

Raucous dominate blue jays have joined in

Summer sweeps in - warm and alive

Twittering always - tiny brown wren

 

Raucous dominate blue jays have joined in

Dove coos softly to loving mate

Twittering always - tiny brown wren

Whippoorwill mourns as the day grows late

 

Dove coos softly to loving mate

From the timber - the crow's harsh caw

Whippoorwill mourns as the day grows late

The meadowlark trills a Kansas call


------------------------------

 

UNDER KANSAS
prairie are roots

that can reach down

twelve feet—our own

Sargasso Sea

holding chipped flint,

pot sherds, sharks’ teeth,

and the one thing

that can save us.

 

by William Sheldon
Read More Poems by William Sheldon

 

-----------------------------

 

Farming, Death & Taxes

by Susan Kinney-Riordan

I scan the horizon.

The outline of grain elevators against the sky

look like gravestones.

Horizon and sky touchstones

For life lived on the prairie.

 

Traveling the highways

I watch and look.

Dry fields and soybean harvest.

Favorable weather

it says on the USDA paperwork.

 

Farming in Kansas a gamble

worthy of Las Vegas.

My father-in-law said,

“The only sure things

about farming in Kansas

is death and taxes.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Prairie Idyl

by Mark Scheel

Hail-stripped cottonwoods
weep like battered wives;
yesterday's wheat fields molder
 in galvanized tombs.

It's been this way before:
the patriarchal sun turning
his gray side out like a banker
locking his door.

Main streets lie fallow
as desert bones. Tumbleweeds
dance on doorsteps.
Logo caps commiserate
round gun-racked pickup trucks
while only the crow's cry

mocks the stillness. And I
turning a shoulder to the dark wind

pilgrimage past the boarded school,
slip the wrought-iron portal's latch,
drop to one knee and lay a peony
on my mother's grave.

--first published in Kansas Quarterly

Read More Poems by Mark Scheel

-------------------------------------


Vacant Lot - Colony, KS
by Max Yoho

 
Hollyhocks grew here,
fibrous and pungent.
 
Jonquils, pushy as teenagers,
rushed up through the snow.
 
Here! The yellow rosebush.
Grandma called it “Nebuchadnezzar.”
 
Here was the garden,
where her gold wedding band
slipped from her slender finger
and was planted among peas or radishes.
 
Here, I secretly watched, each spring,
for the first green shoots
of a Wedding Band Bush.
 
Alone now,
at the yellow rosebush,
I say our magic words:
“Your old slippers, my old shoes,
Nebuchadnezzar, the King of the Jews.”
  
--from Felicia, These Fish Are Delicious, © 2004 Max Yoho
Read More Poems by Max Yoho

----------------------------

Almanac

by Amy Fleury

There is a physics to burnt toast and tenderness--
 a law proven in a kitchen south of a certain town.
Here she scrapes black crumbs in washboard rhythm
for the old man choked with bacon grease
and egg yolk who sits at her table.
Brush of silver whiskers, he leaves,
carrying his body like a sack of feed.
Baked bread and bleach claim this place
where she sits to husk and churn--
each day an adage.

In town, her girdle binds as she markets
for flour and spools of thread.
Weather talks barometric pressure,
rain gauge banter.
Straw purse clasped, she winds home
to the bud and shed, vine and prune.
He is there, driving
the John Deere in wide circles.
And sure as the moon will wax and wane,
the old man pats her bottom,
sits at her table as she ladles stew.
 

Read More Poems by Amy Fleury
 

---------------------------

Remembrance

by Duane L. Herrmann

It's just a label: "Farm Fresh Cider"
        a simple common title,
The local near, just down the road:
        "Douglas, Co." (Kansas).
Now soiled and aged and torn,
        just a bit of paper,
But for the name, the family name:
        "M. (Mathias) Gantz."

My grandmother's grandfather
        and his apple orchard,
My family, one hundred years ago,
        was here as I am now.

Whispers Shouting Glory, c 1989,
Duane L. Herrmann -- Buffalo Press, Topeka
Read More Poems by Duane Herrmann

--------------------------------

Kansas Coastline
by Amber Clontz
 

For me there is no ocean.

Sea shells are remains of Box turtles

Cottonwood leaves are my plankton

The whales I know are called buffalo

 

Cicadas imitate the tide’s heaving roar

Mermaids plow dust beaches

Land locked prairies reminisce,

the day the sea drained and sunflowers grew

--------------------------------

A Heavenly Gift
by Nancy Julien Kopp
 
One calm and peaceful day
the hand of God
passed over the land
we know as Kansas,
this place where the
hills meet the plains,
where sweet prairie grasses
bend and sway
like ballerinas amidst
soft and gentle breezes,
then dance wildly
when furious winds blow.
 
The Lord God pulled the vast
skies close to the ground, like
a soft coverlet of blue.
He gave us air to breathe
so clear the stars can do
no less than shine in
glorious reply
through velvet nights.
 
Over these hills and
across these plains,
the Creator scattered
many-hued wildflowers
and treasured trees in
all the right places.
His mighty hand
carved brooks and
streams alike.
 
With grateful heart
my prayer of thanks
soars Heavenward from
this very special place
that I call home.

-----------------------------

 

LAKE
by Daniel Spees

 

It was precisely in the center of summer

the time to escape in swimming. . .

            my girlfriend's cousin had a cabin

            up in Reading, right by a lake,

            so with blankets and towels

            in a cardboard box

 

we rode weekends to this shack on the shore

where there was a porch, cots and a kerosene

            lamp, all the clumsy necessaries

            distasteful to parents--

            an outhouse listing left,

            hammock between pines, cistern,

            matches, clothespins, sandals. . .

 

The loneliest lake in the county,

my girlfriend's fat cousin said

            among the lapping, whispering,

            chuckling noises of the insects,

            water and trees, and my girlfriend

            would laugh about it until dark. 

 

The loneliest lake maybe in Kansas,

she'd murmur in my ear beside me

            on the creaking canvas.  At ten o'clock

            the water went black except for splashes

            of moonlight.  Her thighs were like

            cool slick lotion on my sunburned hide,

 

like memory, like lake sounds interrupting

logic as I lecture my kids.

 

Read More Poems by Daniel Spees

 

----------------------------------

On Roniger Hill
       Chase County, Kansas; near Hymer, Kansas

by Steven K. Nagle

 

Prairie silence was broken, as iron tools struck rock,

The barrel-chested men, chiseled each quarry block.

 

The wagons were loaded, with masons and stone,

Each solid cube lifted with a heave and a groan.

 

Dust trails behind wheels, another haul on the way,

The clouds seen for miles signaled a start to their day.

 

From Hymer and Elmdale and Matfield Green,

The homesteaders came, as Heskett built his dream.

 

Stones perfectly placed, through sweat and through skill,

Within the earth’s hold, on the side of the hill.

 

Admired from miles along the old dusty road,

She was more than a house or a simple abode.

 

She was the pride of the prairie, a gem on the plain,

Withstood violent storms and wind driven rains.

 

She cradled the infants and watched old men die,

She saw a mother’s joy and saw the widows cry.

 

She continues her perch, overlooking the field,

Her history preserved and her secrets revealed.

 

The stone beauty stands proud on Roniger Hill,

She remains eternal, as if time stood still.
 

 

Summer Night

    for William Stafford

by Steven Hind

 

On the road tonight with that

shovel of stars overhead, Milky

Blur I christen it, Bill, I

thought of you, traveling

the dark with the trucks and

the skunks.  Near Abilene

a pale stain passed under my

lights, apostrophe from some

deer meeting fate in a confusion

of headlights, and your poem

whispered its steady purr

over another recent killing.

At two,

past all disasters that did

not happen tonight, I squat

in a bath of breezes under

my cottonwood.  This to say:

thousands of leaves believe

in summer tonight, saying,

Be true.  You are.  Adios. 

Read More Poems by
Steven Hind

------------------------------------
 

Remnants

by Rachel Johnson
 

An arrowhead, a grinding stone, a

Chip from a discarded jar, leather

Strips of a papoose lay strewn about the

Back pasture behind the farmhouse not far,

Leaves the curious without doubt of

Who traveled and survived

Before.

 

Grasses blanket the trail once worn

Ragged where dogs yet eaten then

Horses pulled poles laden with household

Wares and treasures and bounty to

Summer rendezvous along the river

Cottonwood and elm shaded for trade and

Talk.

 

The Smokey first washed then settled on

Deer and duck and down covered geese

Track scratches, beaver and weisel paw

Prints, and a hundred foot stomps left by

Moccasin from generations of drifters

Seeking camaraderie, company and

Contest.

 

Now hoof paths pounded hard by black

Heifers heavy with unborn calves

Finger their way past the dry creek

Bed to moss covered stock tanks,

Trailed dry cow chips splattered about

Parallel tire lines of an old pickup

Truck.

---------------------------

Wamego
by Lori Stratton

 

In my town, the people plant pansies and petunias

and sit on porch swings during warm summer evenings,

fanning themselves with church bulletins.

 

In my town, a neighbor’s pain requires the bringing of gelatin salads,

the green kind with pineapple and Cool-Whip.

Soft mothers take browned children to the park

and let them run barefoot through the sand by the merry-go-round.

 

In my town, people buy popcorn in paper sacks at high school football games

and leave bowls of milk for stray cats

and go to the parade on the Fourth of July.  After hanging their flag by the door,

they pause at the end of the block to wave at their neighbors.

 

In my town, the people plant pansies and petunias, and marigolds

and order subscriptions of the weekly newspaper

to give as gifts to their children who have moved away. 
 

All poetry on this page
Copyright
© by poets named
, 2006 

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