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.
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
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