Kansas Poems
...in progress, a developing mural of words


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View a Poem on This Page; Select & Click a Title Below
 

Bluestem Breeze - by Phillip Albert King

 

Flint Hills, Kansas -- by Primo Ventello

 

Kansas -- by Rushton Prince

 

Kansas Omelet -- by Bill Hickok

Kansas in Autumn -- Barbara Mayer 

Kansas Cottonwood -- Debra White

 

Prairie Dogs... -- Dan Pohl

...rocks in the ground  - by Zachary S. Lawrence

 

Seasonal Dichromatic - by Ellen Drake

 

Today --  Chantel C. Guidry 

To The Prairie... -- Harold L. Gray

 

Winter Reflections... -- by Paula Luteran

 

Wizardry -- Gloria Vando

 

World News... by Laura Washburn
 

   
 
 

To The Prairie and To God
by Harold L. Gray
 

I shall go unto the prairie
I shall go there unto God,
For the mind is want with luxuries
And the prairies sweet with sod.
I’ll not mingle with the fairies,
But turn unto my God.

I’ll go unto the prairie from the moaning sea,
O’er a path so planned with care ---
O’er that path of stone I see
To the road of sunshine fair,
To the prairie yet to be ---
To the prairie and to God.
                   
     (c. Oct. 18, 1938)

Originally appears in the book , To the Prairie and to God...  poetry written by Harold L. Gray (d. 1997) between 1936 - 1941, a collection discovered and compiled by his son, Kevin Gray, 2007.  Learn More & Buy the Book


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KANSAS OMELET
by Bill Hickok

The drab diminutive cowbird
hops like a rabbit behind
her bovine friend.
Makes gourmet meals of
what’s left on the ground.
Her moxie does not stop there
In spring she drops her eggs
with mercenary zeal
into the nest of strangers.
Meadowlark becomes motherlark;
killdeer, mommy dear;
the prairie sparrows and grouse—
all oblivious surrogates
for these street-smart cruisers.
Gone the nursery and teenage
tyranny.  These master sleuths
of the midland flats have
feathers of their kind and
brains that gleam
with the scent of a fox.
 

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Prairie Dogs Have No Time to Pray
by Dan Pohl

When they notice dangers that come
They dive into their Kansas seas
Filled with prehistoric, disconnected
Bones and ancient predator’s loosened
Teeth that punctuate their keeping
Among Indian Root, June bug grubs
And Devil’s Claw, which also burrow
To invade the space of shattered
Flint and Sand Hill grasses

They dig to swim there underground
Into bunkers where some live as we will not
Shaken, they squeak and leap centuries deep
When hawk shadows fly too near.
 
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Bluestem Breeze
by Phillip Albert King
 

Waltzing through  Kansas bluestem,

Sings a somber prairie wind

Calling to the Meadowlark,

On the thisle in the glen,

Russling the cottonwoods,

That wander a round the bend,

Gliding past clear streams and ponds,

Below a twittering wren,

Whispering to the rimrock,

Far beyond the valley's end,

Pausing for just a moment,

On the shoulders of my friend,

Wrestling with some rusty wire,

Of fences he needs to mend.


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WIZARDRY
                  for Dorothy Coulter Hall

by Gloria Vando


These people don’t know your voice
is the color of Venice at dusk.
No one has taught them to listen.  Here
in this taco joint, while you sing an aria
to an old friend whose ruby-sequined
espadrilles reflect the shimmer
of your song, they joke and shout
commands for hot sauce and tequila.
When I comfort you, you shrug and say,
“I think I was given a voice so someday
when I’m old and dotty I can entertain
the folks in the nursing home.”
Somehow, it is fitting you should end up
in a Kansas townhouse over what
was once a farm, tornados raging back
and forth over the tomatoes and corn,
razing the living, raising the dead.
All passion in the land.  Though never
did you dream your career would spin
itself out in the eye of silence.
Still, in this Kansas suburb your voice
radiates like a prairie fire,
the sounds vital, pure, consoling,
as they spread from Mozart to Oz to us.

Originally published in: Shadows & Supposes
2002, Arte Público Press, University of Houston 

Read More Poems by Gloria Vando

 

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Today
by Chantel C. Guidry

 

Today I adore
the wild Kansas wind—


the same one I complain of all winter—
more fierce than the ice
or the snow
all alone,
it strengthens the cold
and pierces layers of cloth,
to chill my tender frail skin.

But today—
today on the prairie
in the heart of the heat
of the most intense days of summer,
I’m glad for the wind,
the coolness of breeze
that rushes my room
and makes blanket on bed
a light and pink dancing dervish.


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World News, August 6th, 2006
by Laura Washburn

 

Drought covers the Kansas newspaper

with columns dull as dust. You

say: It’s Sunday—the birds need water,

and fill the bath. We are full.

 

Paying attention to the world,

our eyes droop. We are like mouth-

breathers in bad air, barely gasping enough.

We are like the croaker fish calling

their only song from melting drugstore ice.

Read More Poems by Laura Washburn  

 
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Flint Hills, Kansas
by Primo Ventello

 

Kansas surrounds you in immense, inescapable horizon.
Nowhere is this more striking, more serene, and beautiful
than in the Flint Hills. By day, carpets of undulating brome
 
and native prairie grass hiss softly in the breeze, seducing
the eye along the curvature of the Earth, broken only
by groves of hedge trees and sunlight glinting off flint rock.

Ring-neck pheasant spring up awkwardly into flight, showing
the oily auburn of their long tails, then quickly set a rhythm
as liquescent as a swimmer. By night, cicadas hum, coyotes cry,

and the sky is stippled with millions of stars, as if the hand
of their creator had shaken them from a great paintbrush.

Previously published in National Geographic Traveler
 
 

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 Kansas Cottonwood

by Debra White

 
There’s something sacred about the way she’s dying

The old cottonwood in our backyard—dying in sections,

   one limb at a time.

And now nearly half of her is dried, leafless,

   bark peeling off leaving her naked skin

   to be eaten by insects and pecked at by woodpeckers.

Yet it’s the death in her that keeps the rest of her living…

   and giving

   shade to us and refuge for squirrels and birds who want to hide.

But branch by branch, she’s letting go until one spring

She’ll decide to not wake up from hibernation.

Then, birds will weep

   and so will I.

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End of winter reflections:
McPherson County Kansas
by Paula Luteran

The cool winds of March
cover the earth
like a soft fleece blanket
and beneath a powdery snow,
waits the crocus.
 
From the barn a soft padding
can be heard as the farmer's son
prepares the cows
for the morning milking.
 
With a farway look
the young boy reflects
on the advent of Easter
and the greening of the fields.
 
Spring brings with it
a burst of color.
The first witness to the season will be
the joyous crocus
on a slender stem.
With its bright ocre stamen
it presages the warmth of the sun.
 
Tiny purple blooms will dot
the neighboring farms
and soon,
there will be flowers:
tulips in all hues
and basketsful of daffodils.

 

KANSAS
by Rushton Prince

Have you seen in rolling nimbus cross the plains
or looked heavenward as dark sky is fractured
by gesticulating light? Have you felt the blast of the Rockies 800 miles east
or the thunderous pound on your chest from sky creased?

Have you heard the horns of the Calvary
or the songs of the Arapaho, Comanche, Kansa, Kiowa, Osage and Pawnee
on the prairie breeze? Have you found yourself under the watchful eye of a Jayhawk
or chased by Wild Cats and Wheat Shocks?

Have you received a warm wave from a stranger on a back road
or an elder in a chair on a white paint flecked porch? Have you seen sunflowers forever
or a farmer’s arm over his boy’s shoulder
at sunset walking home for dinner?

Have you seen the wood people adorning Wichita
or felt the ancestor's presence at a Powwow? Have you seen the sky boil, rotate
suddenly descend in fury; beautiful, captivating, foreboding, destructive
and sparing in twisting motion?

Have you experienced the hospitality of the people of Howard
or felt the birth pains of the Civil War in Lawrence and her sister
Pottawatomie? Have you heard the Wagon Masters “Hoa!”
on an autumn day in Morse, where the Santa Fe and California trails cross?
 
These surface on waves to ride crests of the prairie sea
coaxed by the undercurrents of Kansas.

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SEASONAL DICHROMATIC

- by Ellen Drake

   

The winter wind is piercing cold;

The sky, ice blue; the grass is gold,

Brittle, dry and covered with dust.

Tumbleweeds leap with every gust.

 

In turquoise framed, the sun gleams gold;

The harrier circles, swift and bold.

The meadowlarks' clear warbles ring;

The wind sings in the grass in spring.

 

Beneath blue skies the bright gold wheat

Is burnished in the sun's fierce heat,

Fanned by the bellows of the wind

That sears the earth at summer's end.

 

Yellow-gold the trees' leaves turn;

Against the azure sky they burn

Like golden flames until one day

The autumn wind tears them away.

 

The grass, blue-green as mountain spruce,

Is rooted deeply in the loose,

Rich sod. Sunflowers' heads of gold

Nod to tales the wind has told.

 

In eons past, an inland sea

Left golden shells as legacy.

Heaped wind-worn monuments, they stand

Beneath blue skies, o'er level land.

 

Blue and gold, gold and blue -

A level line divides the two.

Horizon-halved, the austere scene

Is vast and stark, severe, serene.

 

And winter, summer, spring and fall

The sweet, wild wind sweeps over all,

Now fierce, now mild; it howls or sings

Or whispers secret prairie things.
 

  ...ooo000ooo...

 

 

All poetry on this page
Copyright
© by
their authors - 2006, 2007, 2008 

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Kansas in Autumn  
by Barbara Mayer 

    

Cerulean skies surround
the Kansas plains like an azure
ocean sweeping across the horizon.
Faint wisps of white marble
the aqua expanse. Shafts of sunlight
bathe shriveled cornstalks
and withered sunflowers, creating
an autumn landscape resplendent
with rusts, ambers and olive greens.
The flat contour of Kansas may lack
the boldness of mountain peaks
and majesty of ancient oaks,
but when its fertile fields touch the
cobalt firmament, serenity envelops
my soul and I feel touched by grace.

 
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There’re more rocks in the ground 
by Zachary Scott Lawrence

 

There’re more rocks in the ground
than on the road
here
and that one lone pine
only grew
after all the houses
were gone
nothin’ll grow here
really
anymore
though
I saw a disused garden
tomatoes everywhere
and no-one around to enjoy them

 

Previously Published in the anthology:
                           Keepers of the Pen

 

 

 

 

 

 

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