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.