Poetry is at the heart of all my writing. It informs the use of words, whether I'm writing prose or copy, features or fiction. In addition to my recently released chapbook Here the Water is Deep (Orange Hat Publishing), I have published What I Learned in Kansas (Port Yonder Press), Benthos (Wolfsong Publications), and the mini-chapbook, The Book of Ruth. My poems have appeared in numerous state and national journals and anthologies, and I have been the recipient of a fellowship for poetry from the Kansas Arts Commission.
I have shared my love of poetry as a speaker for schools and civic groups, on radio programs and at other venues. The unique project One Vision: A Fusion of Art, Poetry and Dance, for which I was the co-editor, came out of a recognition of the interconnectedness of the various art forms and how they can inspire each other.
I have been a member of the performance group The Wasteland Poets (now disbanded), and am currently a part of Grace River Poets, which gives inspirational readings around the region.
"Jump," they all urged her, "Jump!"
But she was afraid to jump,
afraid to let go.
Not that she doubted he would catch her,
would fold her up safely in his arms,
but that she would fall crookedly,
would flail ungracefully,
that the target would be missed,
though he assured her any way she landed
he would be there.
But jumping was tricky business,
perilous even, for the unskilled,
for those without a net;
though she had forgotten, failed to remember
that wings come to the brave,
and flight was her destiny --
only she couldn't feel
the lift of his laughter
unless she did, at last, jump.
-from Here the Water is Deep
What I Learned in Kansas
I learned to tell the difference
between the smell of alfalfa and wheat,
to note the breeds of Charolais and Hereford;
I learned the purpose of burning
the pastures to bring life again,
green and tender as any hope.
I learned how hard the wind blows,
driving the prairie grasses
into undulating oceans
of whispering songs,
to hear the swelling moans
of labor hard under
the relentless sun.
And I learned the stillness
of the vast night sky,
broad as here to here,
crammed with stars
and silent, flickering lightning
as I shivered.
I learned that my lips could
recite the words,
the secrets of the prairie's strength
and that I, too, could
swallow those truths,
feel them expand
rising and rising like the hills
to meet the clean line of horizon,
the moment of flight.
I learned in Kansas
the difference between living
loving and emptiness,
that the heart can wander
from Olathe to Liberal
and still find its way home.
-from What I Learned in Kansas
I cannot help but lie in the sun
and feel the earth grow through me--
A shoot of grass push through
a crack in my face,
weeds sprout in my crumbling chest,
clover blanket my belly
dandelions, bright yellow eyes.
I cannot help but invite the ground
to feast on my decaying body,
the earthworm transform me bit by bit,
unseen creatures dismantle my form
till I give life to the earth again
and become a field of poems.
- from Benthos