Thursday, June 04, 2015


-->takes ten t’avoid th’tolls – sun rises on th’haskell lands,
‘n’ he opens th’window

even’n th’modern day,
th’fort scott man, ‘n th’warm night, wants t’know
which side ‘f th’war you’re on

pride ‘f greeley county,
five hundred acres turned t’wheat
traders made more’n him

longhorn by old fence,
plains rising, weeds grow up sign -
wichita, 50

way up the flint ridge,
spits back at steamy lowlands -
drier on high plains


boxcar’s open door –
past hays, watches th’wheat, ‘n’ won’t sleep –
afraid they’ll slam it

no soul on high plains,
sun beats on barren rock - hawk
finds "toronto" sign


seventy people –
town ‘f horace nurtures its weeds,
‘n’ guards its railroad tracks

lawrence exit blues
busker, played in town through fourth -
last place 'til denver

walking the u.s. -
wind drags him back t'salina
sun pulls at his shoe

free state fence t’climb,
patch ‘f woods in douglas county,
jacket for pillow

sixty six ‘n summer
stopped ‘n galena, ‘n’ they told th’tale
‘f th’day main street caved in

longhorn guards weed patch
on road west to wichita
sign of things to come!

longhorn’s doleful look –
guards th’weed patch, seems t’question why
you’d go t’wichita

wyandotte county
backroads cricket song lyrics
lost in translation

phone poles like toothpicks –
b’lloon pilot likes th’grid of th’roads,
‘cept ‘long th’arkansas

phone poles on th’straight’way –
window’s open, but missed th’sign
f’r th’road t’ garden city

phone poles, road t’butler
brother died playing chicken,
‘n’ summers take too long

circle water tow'r
find kansas town name in sun
class of sixty two!

field of sunflowers
following sun to the west
over the flint ridge

uphill, west near grant
wind in th’face, sun on th’shoulder,
‘n’ th’sunflowers follow

boot hill’s ‘n illusion –
hot dusty town, nowhere t’go,
she says, now that’s real

no way out of dodge,
says th’actress, but where she’s gone
there’s no coming back

sunset, th’arkansas,
th’calm august waters, th’mem’ry
her dust-streaked cheekbones

longhorn ‘t th’wich’ta sign
though th’field's wide, th’grass's plenty,
knows full well he’s trapped

weeds on th’cross ‘n’ flowers –
coffeyville man shows where th’kids
died playing chicken

parents 'r harvesting,
but she's back'n this cafe booth, off
massachusetts street

bar on mass’chusetts
knows her parents’re harvesting,
she takes ‘nother drink

freight train, ripe milo
few hours t’wichita, he too
‘ll live without water

rows ‘f headstones, or’nge leaves
‘t th’national cemetery –
fort scott, too, fought th’war

mankato road, th’hawk
scans th’homesteads – th’leaves have fallen,
‘n’ they’re giving’m away

wakes up in th’acorns
blue sign ‘n th’clear lawrence morning –
free state fence comp’ny

for th’bed ‘f leaves, climbs th’fence –
this part ‘f th’kaw valley’s got th’room,
fence sign says ‘free state’

whole field 'f ripe milo,
clear crisp air t'the m'ssouri line -
train whistle pierces

back t’ward th’m’ssouri line
field ‘f ripe milo turns dark red,
setting in against th’drought

state line road houses
face each other – on th’kansas side,
at sunset, th’shofar


ammunition plant –
back home ‘n parsons, his wife’ll put
sock ghosts in all th’trees

cardboard ghosts in th’trees –
even th’slightest dec’ration
makes parsons cheerful

so cold ‘n’ paranoid –
dirty looks ‘n old town, ‘n’ he thinks
‘t’s th’westboro fam’ly

pittsburg student's shocked -
roommate's thanksgiving dinner
had no spaghetti

on through emporia,
light snow dusts golden flint hills -
change drivers, make tea

woods ‘f eastern kansas
welcome th’dry country hiker
even as they sleep

kansans always know
which way is west, to lean in
to the bitter wind

parsons schoolteacher –
at th’hol’days, tends t’overdo
her decorations

flint ridge longhorn warns
westbound traffic: high plains drifts
leave no sign of road

they'd mined galena-
one new year, sixty six caved,
car fell twenty feet


tourist bus’ness slowed,
‘n’ th’hard wind’s hit th’frozen prairie
there’s no way out ‘f dodge

kids want t’go sledding
th’only hill ‘n southeast kansas,
th’bridge over th’highway

mass street breakfast joint –
babe cries, winter comes through th’door –
th’poet finds th’lost pen


flying through th’flint hills,
pulling th’overweight load through th’snow,
engine’s blown for sure

couple ‘f old silos,
frozen road t’topeka, th’time
t’think about injustice

big traffic – b’yond th’sign,
tonganoxie eudora,
th’foggy, icy fields


manhattan square dance –
moms, dads, snow boots, do-si-dos,
th’kids’re checking their phones (11-17)

busy, th’traffic – the signs,
eudora tonganoxie,
glow ‘gainst th’icy fields

marais des cygnes sky,
warm wind billows northbound geese,
road weighed down by cars


just one wall stood when
lent'n twister razed flint hills church -
that wall had th'picture

dust storm stirs mem'ry -
old man in hays tax office
remembers childhood


south t’texas, march night –
th’turnpike lass, last lone soul b’fore
th’kaw nation coffee

place like leavenworth,
common man's rage against feds -
post office, tax day

phone poles in a line -
with no roads, how did spring rains
find garden city?

born at home ‘n th’high plains –
now th’flow’rs bloom, ‘n th’state ‘f kansas wants
th’doctor t’prove he’s real

tornado chaser,
dying t’run out t’pratt county
has t’grade th’stack ‘f finals


cross ‘n’ flowers, road t’pratt
th’kid needs t’hit th’gas, his dad too
died playing chicken

geese ‘t th’marais des cygnes
like most folks, it’s rare when they
don’t know which way’s north


dark walls on th’inside
protect you from th’kansas sun –
nothing, from th’march wind

spring rains, pratt county
wait years for th’good rainfall, then
spend three days on th’roof

flint ridge view - behind,
steamy east; below, monarch,
up from mexico


prairie grasses flow’r
dawn hits th’locked church near pratt,
he peeks in ‘t jesus


found th’rare mead’s milkweed
stopped over ‘t th’marais des cygnes
t’see th’tallgrass prairie

red and blue balloons,
drunken graduates still in robes -
parents load the van

ott’wa man’s complaint –
june tornado took his barn,
slipped under th’radar


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