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Thomas Reynolds

 

 

Thomas Reynolds

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Thomas ReynoldsThomas Reynolds, was raised and currently lives in Paola, Kansas with his wife and two daughters. He earned history and English degrees from Washburn University and an MFA in creative writing from Wichita State University. Currently, he is an assistant professor of English at Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, Kansas.

 

Reynolds has been writing and publishing poetry for the last twenty-five years. In 1987, his chapbook titled Electricity was published by Ligature Press of Topeka, Kansas. His first full-length collection of poetry, Ghost Town Almanac, was published in 2008 by Woodley Memorial Press of Washburn University of Topeka.

 

Reynolds, who combines his interest of history & poetry in his writing, has published poetry in both print and online journals, including Alabama Literary Review, New Delta Review, Prairie Poetry, Aethlon: The Journal of Sport Literature, American Western Magazine, Midwest Poetry Review, Potpourri, The Pedestal Magazine, Flint Hills Review, Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal, 2River View, 3rd Muse Poetry Journal, Ash Canyon Review, and Magaera.

 

He's currently wrapping up a second poetry manuscript, tentatively titled The Distance of Brothers, which focuses on his family's history.

 


 

Happy Hour at Vera’s

                             Hunter, Kansas.
 

“On the wings of a snow-white dove,

He sends his pure sweet love…”

 

Less like a dove than a spindly underfed hen,

Vera maneuvers among graffiti-laden tables

Snatching up glasses with the quick motion

Of a chicken pecking corn, discerning empties

Like scattered grains among tall grass,

No hesitation or wasted motion, all smiles.

For this is Happy Hour, the hall is crowded,

Vera is dressed to kill, with polyester slacks,

A tee-shirt with her round face on the front

And written underneath, “Vera’s—Hunter, Kansas.”

 

Already sweat beads on her lip’s velvety down,

A widening water pool gathers at each armpit.

And on her way she’s telling a familiar tale,

In her tremulous squawk, of the night Willie

Crashed his car into the pool hall’s west side,

Sending glasses and pool balls flying outward,

And of how she chased him down Victor Street

Till he fell in a blind stagger at her feet

Begging, “Be merciful, O great vengeful bird,

Most vicious buzzard, and fly to your cave.”

 

Vera finishes up, and everyone toasts Willie,

“the only worm to ever ruffle Vera’s feathers,”

laughing loudly but with the unsettling image

of a fuzzed-up Vera hovering above their eyes

mistaking them for gravel bits to feed her craw.

As if to dispel the image, Johnson calls out,

“Vera, sing the dove song!” amid loud approval,

though some mumble amiably, “Now you done it.”

 

Vera sets down her tray, immediately obliges

With a song she’s sang some thousands of times,

But never on key, filled with occasional honks

And general skimming above and below the tune,

Abruptly ending before once more taking flight,

Putting the exhausted bird through its paces

With the same message held fast in its claws.

 

Then somebody clips money into the juke box

And sheepishly Willie walks from the corner

To take Vera’s hand, pull her to the floor,

Twirl her about in an awkward semi-pirouette,

Then absolved, pass her to the next one,

Vera grasping each as if from some duty,

Carrying him like he was a broken twig,

Setting him down on the opposite hallway

The way a dove culls sticks for a nest.
 

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Land of the Post Rock

   

Backed by a line of stone posts strung with wire,

Roughly chiseled and leaning at various angles,

The old man standing in the vine-carpeted field

Seems merely a stray too stubborn to follow orders,

A post hopelessly off track with the plodding march

Wandering inch by inch into a watermelon patch,

Equally bent, with the same scarred discolored face

Notched in odd striations as if by hammer blows.

The puzzled look on his face expresses surprise

At the distance he has traveled without realizing,

As if his thoughts had only momentarily drifted

And suddenly he has awakened to a new position

Tangled with vines in a field of round stones.

His left hand grasps his hat, the right balances

On its fingers a quarter-moon watermelon rind

Turned slightly upward toward the old man’s face,

Held as if it were producing a sound, a low hum

Or dull ring such as stone makes when broken.

The ground around him is littered with stones,

Covering as if rained down from the gray sky.

And the old man gazes out at the photographer,

Inquiring how, in a land of nothing but stone,

The skies could open up only to deliver more.

 

 

Mental Notes of a Kansas Hermit

 

Walk through bramble and get stung by a wasp to see

One blue wildflower burning in a red meadow.

 

Fly a kite constructed of reeds and newsprint,

Or weighted by stones, build a fortress for ants.

 

Tear down the snow fence, but save the posts.

Walk through time, but always return before dusk.

 

Eat a hatful of berries with two wild onions

And wash your breath with a tin cup of rain.

 

Deny the existence of prairie phantoms

When they snuff out kindling or watch you sleep.

 

Owe allegiance to things you can touch,

Dirt and wood, to replace God, country, wind.

 

Send a fifth bottle down the swollen creek

With a note inside that reads “Be my friend.”

 

 

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Rodeo

 

The cheers of the crowd

Their easy banter

Echoes in silent waves

 

Across the rodeo arena

Gray and frozen

Under a winter sky.

 

Last July’s extravaganza

Was well-attended

But this crowd is infinite!

 

Bullish and expectant,

Wind tears

At the chute gates.

 

Riding the air,

Bucking and rocking,

A snowflake hits the dirt.

 

In holding pens,

Leaves skitter

Like nervous colts.

 

An empty bag

Bloated and brash

Staggers for the exit.

 

A loose cord

On the ticket booth

Waves more in.

 

Weeds tick them off,

One at a time,

On a chain-link fence.

 

No need for tickets

Or hand stamps

Or life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All poetry on this page
Copyright
© b
y Thomas Reynolds, 2010

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