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Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Introducing Kansas Poems, by Brian Daldorph - Birdy Poetry Prize Finalist, 2020

 Each Wednesday we share an excerpt from a Meadowlark book. Use the "Follow our website" form on the right to receive Meadowlark updates by email.  

This week we are delighted to share a few poems from Brian Daldorph's new book, Kansas Poems. This title is now available for pre-release order. We expect to begin shipping in late January. 

Kansas Poems
by Brian Daldorph
Book Launch: February 5, 2021

Kansas Poems “is a poetry of place and microhistory, which nonetheless transcends the people and events it tells about . . .  And while I’ve never been to Kansas, I now feel that I might have—or at least that there is a Kansas of my mind, a place of lakes and fireflies and small lives.” 

--Laura Chalar, author of Unlearning and Midnight at the Law Firm (Stories)

Magnolia in May, Lawrence, Kansas

What we did in my parents’ garden
we should have done for our marriage:
plucked off
brown, withering petals
of the magnolia,
dropped them in a black bucket
so strong new buds could push through.
My mother showed us how to do it.
We did it in her garden,
didn’t do it at home,
and then it was too late for flowers.

Kansas Poems
©Brian Daldorph 2020

The Blue Owl Motel

My dad turns over, groans, then
starts snoring again. He’s sleeping
deeply. Went to bed at ten
and he’ll sleep through until eight.
How does he do that?

I might snatch a bit of sleep
toward morning, an hour or so
if I’m lucky, before the sun glares
in through our motel window
and Dad rises, “Boy,
that sure was some good sleep!
I’m hungry as a hog!”

We’re going fishing on the Saline River.
We’re hoping the fish will bite.
I’m wondering if I’ll have a home to return to,
a wife and kids, a job.

It was Dad’s idea to, kick back, as he says,
to take a break, rest up awhile
then go back and take a firm grip.
I didn’t want this trip but again
I wasn’t my father’s son,
I wasn’t man enough to say no.

“Let’s go see what’s bitin’!”
and what can I do but follow him
out of our room to his truck?

Kansas Poems
©Brian Daldorph 2020

The prodigal son 

goes home to his parents’ house,
the only one of their kids free
of his own family commitments
to look after them in their late years.

He doesn’t take anything back with him,
doesn’t need anything,
sits with them in the morning,
swims in the afternoon,
stick-thin arms hauling him
through the tepid water of Clearwater Lake.

Most days his parents are fine
so he spends his time
reading every book in the house,
walking downtown to the coffee shop
where he stares out at people
busy with their lives.

When nothing matters anyway
it might as well not matter here,
where he can at least be useful,
where every other night he can cook chili dogs and corn,
get half-drunk in his room on homemade wine.

Kansas Poems
©Brian Daldorph 2020

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