Steve Brisendine: “The Gray King of Winter’s End”

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The Gray King of Winter’s End

We have lions in Kansas, of a sort, but
our sort skulks, yellow-eyed, and slinks
               from one shadow to the next.

Here, March comes in like an old badger,
surly and still possessed of claws
               with a few good scratches left.

It growls through whipping prairie grass, 
burrows down past-dusk suburban streets 
               daring you to try and stop it.

In its prime, it bit with teeth of jagged
ice, dug holes in houses, picked off and
               picked clean the unhoused.

Even in twilight it is nothing you want to 
fight for long; even dulled, its weapons
               still sting, still buffet and bruise.

It chases thunder east to Missouri, nips
at lightning’s heels, gnaws all night
               at chattering screen doors.

Whatever comes to take it to earth at last
will not wear wool, but feathers, and fly
               full speed into April, talons bared.

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About the Author: Steve Brisendine is a writer, poet, occasional artist and recovering journalist living and working in Mission, KS. He is the author of two collections from Spartan Press: The Words We Do Not Have (2021) and Salt Holds No Secret But This (2022). His work has appeared previously in As It Ought to Be Magazine, as well as in Connecticut River Review Journal, Flint Hills Review, Circle Show and other journals and anthologies. He was a finalist for the 2021 Derrick Burleson Poetry Prize.

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Image Credit: Russell Lee, “Weather vanes, Sheridan County, Kansas” (1939) The Library of Congress

Steve BrisenDine: “Pickling”

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About the Author: Steve Brisendine is a poet, writer, occasional artist and recovering journalist who lives and works in Mission, KS. His work has appeared in As It Ought To Be, Flint Hills Review, Connecticut River Review and other publications. His first collection of Poetry, The Words We Do Not Have, was published in 2021 by Spartan Press.

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More By Steve Brisendine:

Working Out a Splinter at Three O’clock on Good Friday Afternoon

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Image Credit: John Colier Jr. “Steel-saving glass-top jars recommended by the War Production Board, Containers Division” (1943) The Library of Congress

Steve Brisendine: “Working Out a Splinter at Three O’clock on Good Friday Afternoon”

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Working Out a Splinter at Three O’clock on Good Friday Afternoon

You can’t go easy, get the big bits out
and call it good –

not if you want it all gone,
not if it’s buried, broken off
deep as the things that prick
at your dreams
when you sleep all the way through Saturday.

You have to keep at it until it all runs clear,
like there’s water in the blood.

Then it’s clean.

Then it’s finished.

There will be a scar.

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About the Author: Steve Brisendine is a writer, poet, occasional artist and recovering journalist living in Mission, Kansas. His poetry appears in the third and most recent volume of the 365 Days Poets anthology and in The Rye Whiskey Review. His first collection of poems, The Words We Do Not Have, is due out in spring 2021 from Spartan Press.

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Image Credit: Fritz Henle “Wood pile at the Orton farm, Marshfield, Vermont” (1942) The Library of Congress