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2 poems by Madison White

Brief History in Brown and Red

In 1861, Kansas became the 34th state to join the Union.

What vermillion thoughts fluttered

in John Brown’s brain? A whole state

bleeding. Homesteads don’t have enough gauze

enough thread. Who is retreating? War

ahead of its time. His body sings. Forgotten,

but equal. When divided, do we point to the right

doll? Feet stuck in the red-stained rectangle. A culture

behind the times. Election night blaring. What flashes

in the center like a bullet wound spreading? Bang

bang. Kansas, you’ve done it again.

Big Sky Prayer

We have no willows, no curtained

windows, no one to spy on us

but the whippoorwills. We take

a poor man’s vacation – wading through

pools of dead wheat and emerging withered

and bruised. If we had trees, we would burn them

at both ends and let the ashes tend the land.

Oh Big Sky – give us some fruit for our labor,

may you raise your tired thunderhead, and scar us

with your heavy hands.


Madison is a recent graduate of the University of Manchester’s MA program in Creative Writing. She has since returned from the UK to her home state of Kansas where she teaches English and works as a freelance writer. She also blogs about writing and other creative endeavors on her website Madison White Writes. Madison’s poems have appeared in The Cardiff Review, Whale Road Review, Vinyl, and elsewhere. She writes far too many poems about Kansas.


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