Friday, April 10, 2009

AAPP Contest 2, Kansas Towns: Winners

Kansas Town When the Sun Goes Down
Jo McDougall, Leawood, author of Dirt (Autumn House Press)

hums on the horizon.


On a Sunny Sunday in October
Gloria Vando, Mission Hills and L.A., author of Shadows and Supposes

It’s the lack of sound, the lack of motion
I first notice. Nothing moves.
A gray squirrel unfolds from its still frame,
jumps a few times, and disappears
into the green silence. A small breeze wakes
the dying leaves of the black walnut trees.
Then sleep. I walk under overhanging
branches of elms, oaks, and redbuds.
Light. Shadow. Light. Shadow.
My cap and sunglasses fail to block
the afternoon sun. Not a car. Not a soul.
Even the birds are mute. All the doors
are locked, shades drawn against intruders—
Keep Out signs understood, not posted.
I walk on, unseen, unheard.
At the blue service station on the edge
of Mission, I pick up my revived car.
“It’s eerie,” I tell Mr. Buford, “no one’s out.”
“The Chiefs are playing,” he laughs,
“a good day for a burglary!”
I drive home—the only car on the road.
The door to our garage is up, my husband’s car
bears an invisible sign: Steal me!
The front door is slightly ajar.
“Hey,” I yell, “I’m home!”
“Shh! Don’t bother me,” he yells back
from the basement, “It’s a terrific game!”
Elegy to Elmdale, a Prairie Town
H.C. Palmer, Lenexa

Since you went away,
the tame edges
of your hometown

have grown wild.
Every year, we shore
up the framework

of what remains,
yet bedrooms and barns,
even schoolrooms

soften from decay—
compost for prairie
reclaiming its place.
Sounds of Lawrence
Tom Mach, Lawrence

Voices are ghosts too,
still here to haunt us.
Quantrill’s order to
burn the Eldridge
are embedded in stone
and a boy’s scream
from a flying bullet
may be hidden in a
Watkins Museum rifle.
Frazier Hall holds the words
Of Susan Anthony’s speech
While the applause for
Jane Addams and her talk
at the Bowersock Theater
are now buried somewhere
in the mortar of Liberty Hall.
The Pinckney School playground
holds the frustrated tears of a youngster
named Langston Hughes
and somewhere in the soil
of a Lawrence cemetery
are more voices, past and future…
some who have spoken
and some who have yet to speak.
Claudia Mundell, Carthage, Mo., and Solomon Valley Highway 24Heritage Alliance member

Eons ago, the earth here rumbled with the hooves of Black Dog’s tribe.
Later streets of a town thumped with wagon wheels,
Followed by pavement with humming tires on Main Street.
Now, the terrain calms again, sinking back,
As Kansas elements begin to reclaim its own once more.
The muddy Neosho meanders south of town
Like a dirty ribbon in an old woman’s hair,
But the bridge over it rusts, paint faded away.

The creamery sits silent, windows covered like a boxer’s swollen eyes,
And all the busy grocery stores have ceased to be.
Bank, video store, a lawyer’s office, and tavern
Still open doors for business with remaining neighbors.
Brick and metal churches yet dot the town like pats of butter
Dropped in a steaming vegetable dish.

The courthouse, once hectic, continues to transact
Tags and taxes, and stores the county history.
On the courthouse lawn, a cast iron kettle stands waiting
For summer, when fat back and beans cooking
Will draw folks back into town for a reunion.
Until then, I know what Dorothy learned at Oz,
That Kansas is home, where I belong.
A Kansas Town
Eli Jost , Lawrence, 4th Grade

A Kansas town,
no doubt about it.
A Kansas town for sure.

With the little post office made of stone
and the one-room schoolhouse.

The pretty church with the stained glass windows,
three on either side,
and the steeple bell with its tower leaning.

The old wooden farmhouse with a wrap-around porch
and its barn with the red paint peeling.

A Kansas town,
no doubt about it.
A Kansas town for sure.