August 22, 2018
It’s too hot to sit with the dead today
so I float above them,
hanging on for dear life to the strings
of a bunch of many-colored balloons.
Up high, where the air is much cooler,
the oxygen less dense.
The vacuum of space waits hidden above me;
a black, gaping maw poised to chomp.
Death above, death below, dying in between,
one hand gripping balloon strings,
the other trying to choke down a mustard-soaked sardine sandwich.
In the distance, beyond the curve of the earth,
a thing so monumental its name cannot fit into a human ear.
In the distance, all lived pasts and livable futures.
There may be a mustard stain on my crisp, white shirt
but I’m afraid to look.
Perhaps the dead have asked me to stay away today.
It’s probably not so hot outside after all.
Old man on sidewalk
Jogs past Yoder sign, grabs it,
Rips it, runs, smiles
This is an unusual Shots in the Night show. Tonight’s show is about our city, its people, its feelings, and its life, described through poetry by local artists. If you think you don’t like poetry, you are in for a pleasant surprise, because many of these poems are more like storytelling.
Featuring: Gregory Cenac, Linda Kay Davis, Patrick Dobson, Sharon Eiker, Kathy Hughes, Silvia Kofler, Will Leatham, Michelle Pond, Jeanette Powers, Jason Preu, Larry Welling, and Brandon Whitehead.
Poems read by Rosena Baumli and Jason Preu.
We can walk around the block
in the time it takes us to listen
to Wang Chung’s ‘Dance Hall Days’,
so I wanted to write a poem
tying the song’s lyrics
to observations made along the way.
For instance, I’d quote,
“And take your baby by the ears”
as we stroll by the police station
while employing certain literary tools
to highlight comparisons between the cops
and now-faded pop stars from the 1980s.
And I’d somehow tie together,
“And you need her and she needs you,”
to urban gentrification
and how pushing away the poor has somehow
escaped potential developers of downtown Kansas City, Kansas
despite wholly reshaping Kansas City, Missouri into something…else.
And then I’d end the poem repeating,
“Dance hall days, love, dance hall days
dance hall days, love, dance hall days.”
But without a smoking sax solo,
the entire affair seemed hopelessly missing
that something wholly necessary for lasting greatness.