Native American Heritage Month

Because it is Native American Heritage Month, and because I just so happen to have some work that I think highlights Native Americans, those in Kansas anyway, I wanted to share this with you all today. This is a poem that can be found in the Blue City Poets: Kansas City anthology, the link is below.

It was one of the first poems I wrote about my home, and I was lucky enough to have it printed by a small press in Kansas City who loved it as much as I did. I have another poem in the book, and a pretty fun bio page, so please go check it out on Amazon! You can buy the paperback for $12.99 or the Kindle version for $4.99. (There was a bit of a snafu with the graphic designer when the anthology first came out, and this poem was basically cut in half, but they fixed it!) Anyway, I hope you enjoy my work. Feel free to share this post with others who may also like it.

As for my Native American friends, I just want you to know that I support you. I adore you. I only want to honor you with this work, and my home state of Kansas. Shed light on the fact that many of our places, our honored names, our hallowed grounds, were yours first. Were named after you, to honor you, even though that is not what the white people of Kansas did to you.

And yes, I know horrible things happened there to your people, but honestly the guilt and shame I feel for what my ancestors did to you, can do nothing to help at this point, so I won’t even try. But please know that you have my full support and love regarding whatever is best for you and your tribe, your family, your history, and your life moving forward. I know I have messed up along the way (sorry for all those times I called my friends my “tribe” or I called something my “spirit animal,” ick, but I am learning everyday.)

As always, thanks for the support.

M.

Kansas
 
Your summer days are long
South winds cool, in spite of the heat
Cotton curtains lapping open windows 
Fresh apple pie air 
Skies reflecting rivers reflecting skies
 
We’ve galloped, arms outstretched
Through your waves of wheat
Stripped dandelions from Strawberry Hill
Smeared yellow down our wrists
Whispered your names, recited your song
Apache, Pawnee, Osage
I stand there amazed and I ask as I gaze
If their glory exceeds that of ours

Yes, we’ve perched atop your tallgrass mounds
Wakeeny, Kechi, Osawatomie 
Cradled a honeybee 
Scalped arrowed flint 
Dug limestone with our feet
Where the Wakarusa and the Kaw rivers meet
 
We’ve jogged your streets and avenues
Kissed your patchy pavement  
Miami, Pottawatomie, Dakota
We’ve stood on Cherokee, under the silo 
Looked up to the cosmos
Per aspera ad astra
 
Your sunflowers are resilient
Bursting from the grasslands in great numbers
Following the buffalo
Gazing west, despite boots on their necks
 
Your rows of corn have dulled
Your heritage now lost
Though your lines still show
Wyandotte, Neosho, Topeka
Kaza, Kosa, Kasa, Kaw
 
Kansas
 

I’m a Poet, I Just Know It

See what I did there? Last year, there was a call for poetry from a small press in Kansas City, called Flying Ketchup Press. They wanted poems from people who call Kansas City, or Kansas or Missouri home. They wanted to share the sense of this amazing place with others, while promoting the voices of those who grew up on those streets. I saw it while perusing Submitabble one day, bookmarked it, then moved on. I have always wanted to have a poem published, I thought it would be so cool to be able to say, “Oh yeah, I wrote that poem!” Haha. I’ve secretly always wished I’d been born a poet, and not a foul-mouthed, wanna-be. But here we are.

I couldn’t sleep for at least a week. I tossed and turned at night, thinking about my home. Thinking about Kansas and Missouri. The time I’ve spent there (30 years) and all that it taught me. Being Midwestern comes with many fun little quirks, sure we say “ope” everyday, and sure we have a penchant for apologizing all the time, and drowning all our food in ranch dressing, but why? And how? Who came before us and made us this way? I started to wonder day in and day out about the place I call home. Then one day I was inspired to dig deeper into Kansas history, so I did. I meshed it with a little of my own Kansas history and the poem, “Kansas” was born.

What happened was I got an acceptance letter, with a note from the editor, a true Kansas City girl, who explained that they were happy to include my poem in their anthology, and that my poem was the favorite of all those submitted. I was shocked. Honestly. I was so shocked I didn’t know how to respond, so I just sent a thank you, not really believing it would ever happen. Geez, I have great self-esteem.

Then, well, it happened. The poetry book, titled: Blue City Poets, was officially published on September 10th of this year. Which happened to be my 38th birthday. Which happened to be the day I decided that my 38th year would be the best yet. And so far, so good.

Anyway, I appreciate you all reading my musings, my dumb political rants, and my stories of everyday struggles on everything from mental illness, to parenting, to my dumb-ass dog. And especially for following me along this journey of writing that I struggle with everyday. It’s good to feel like you’re not the only one doing something. Having struggles. Getting rejected. The whole shebang.

So how can you read my poem? Great question! You can purchase the book here: https://www.amazon.com/Blue-City-Poets-Kansas/dp/197015196X/ref=mp_s_a_1_11?keywords=blue+city+poets%3A+kansas+city&qid=1570333582&sr=8-11&fbclid=IwAR3nuvgwRu1QoYXKBOJNbixFyI7Xwq-11h-FrKFjzZ__8MUxtaxoxD0URSo

The paperback is $12.99 and the Kindle version is $4.99. It’s part of Prime too!

So here is a giant virtual hug to all of you who tirelessly support me. By reading my blog, liking my stupid posts, and telling me to keep going, to stay positive, and that I am good at what I do. I hope to one day believe you.

M.

April

If you’ve been around long enough you know that Edna St. Vincent Millay is my homegirl. She’s no Joan Didion, but that’s a different genre. Edna, like Momma Joan, has been around since high school. We first met in a drama class my sophomore year. We had to recite a poem in front of the whole class, and well, I thumbed my finger through a poetry book and found the shortest one I could: My candle burns at both ends; it will not last the night; but ah, my foes, and oh, my friends — it gives a lovely light! I was such a wanker. But Edna didn’t mind. She didn’t mind when that poor, underpaid adjunct at KU made me “explore the rich tapestry of the sonnet,” or when my evil grad school professor said, “close reading”. Every time I found my way back to Edna, and every time she welcomed me with open arms. In short, she’s my ride-or-die. Which makes each season of life a bit different because, well, Edna was a bit different. Here’s the one that has been sloshing around the old noggin for the last few weeks:

Feel free to do you own close reading of this one. Or just read it over and over again, listening to the lullaby of the words. Appreciate the rhythm, the feeling. Or you know, shake your head and say, “Oh Edna…”

I’m not sure about April anymore either, you guys. I’m not sure about the rebirth of spring, or the way that we pin so much hope on a fresh start, but I did find out that one of my own poems will be in a book of poetry this year, and I am excited and so very surprised. I’ve grown a lot from the last April to this one. A lot. Maybe this time of year will grow on me now too.

Go forth in flowers and poetry today, y’all.

M.