Poetry/Haiku - Call for Entries, April - National Poetry Month
Write and Send Us a Poem/Haiku
Kevin Rabas, an assistant professor, teaches creative writing and literature at Emporia State University, co-directs the creative writing program, is co-editor of Flint Hills Review, and advises the student literary magazine, Quivira. An avid jazz drummer and critic, Rabas writes regularly for Jazz Ambassador Magazine (JAM). Born in Merriam, Rabas has spent most of his life in Kansas, and in his poetry he commonly strives to depict ordinary and extraordinary Kansans and Kansas Citians. His poetry has appeared in many national literary magazines, including Nimrod, The Malahat Review, and The Mid-America Poetry Review. He is the winner of the Langston Hughes Award for Poetry, the Salina Poetry Series New Voice Award, and the Victor Contowski Award for Poetry. He has two books of poetry: Bird’s Horn & Other Poems (Coal City Review Press, Lawrence, 2007) and Lisa’s Flying Electric Piano (Woodley Press, Washburn University, Topeka, 2009).
Ruth Catches Fire
Ruth walks past the pinyon clay oven,
and her long skirt takes to flame,
orange wings come up from her calves,
and Rick, her brother-in-law, 6’5”,
and a high school basketball coach
for 30 years, acts. He does not wait.
He hits in, tackles Ruth, rolls her in the grass.
Someone throws their drink on them.
Another does. The flames go out.
Ruth laughs, hugs Rick. Night falls
faster. Ruth changes. It’s her house.
Someone brings out a bucket of ice water,
and brings it to the pinyon oven’s circular hole,
and puts it out. The smoke and steam
gathers around us. It rises, and we see the stars,
which too are fire, and think again of all of that heat.
In that house, there was a lot of jazz,
about fifteen hundred recordings
about Gottlieb photo prints in frames
on all of the walls. “Make yourself at home,”
my host said, and I listened to Jerry Mulligan
with Paul Desmond and read about the beats.
In the morning, I ate a bagel, and I read
the selected poems of Russell Edson,
who I had heard read last year. His voice
came to me, as I read the page; he spoke
of apes and rats; a husband, a wife,
and a grown son who held up
leafy branches in the kitchen, and they said,
“Look. It is fall.” My host had written
his dissertation on James Wright, 30-some
years ago, and we talked about Wright,
and about Bly, whom I had handed a note
on a plane once, telling him about how
his reading had moved my father and I to tears,
the first time we had cried together.
The next day, my father slung
his tool belt into his pickup
and headed out to work at 5,
the sun not yet up, and I thought of
him, and his head now, full of poems.
“Never liked him,” Grandma Bert said.
“Even as a soda jerk, I didn’t like him, always
sneaking cherry into my Coke. He came home a hero
with a withered hand, though, that Bob Dole.”
“You know what we got from that Bob Dole
when he went to Washington? Storm drains.
That’s how he fixed our town, how he showed
his worth: Russell now has storm drains,
and a leader with a withered hand.
War did it. Took that hand. Can’t even
barely hold a pen with it, I hear.”