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.
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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.
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.
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.
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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
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
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
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