Poetry from Kevin Rabas

Always Good


C.S. Lewis reminds us
that some things
are always good:
a waterfall, a rainbow,
two hands clasped.
Take that away,
and you may never know
that anything can be good,
is always good, no matter
how you look and see.



Wild Man


Wes says he only eats meat
that he shoots, says they fear me,
a blue-blue liberal with guns,
lots of guns. He married
a rich woman, lives in the woods,
was bitten by a tick
with lyme, treats it
with poultices he crafts
himself. Used to mix
and sell acid on bits
of paper. Not much
different, this.



Catherine & Hal


During the love scene
in Proof, a guitar solo—

the party also
going on
down below, the beer
bottles, mostly empty, held
by the neck, brown
& green glass, like
the insulators
used to hold
lightning, power lines




Sitting in with DeVan


Everette DeVan’s club church organ,

B-3, seems to warm and wobble

the ice in my glass,

one of my first drinks

in a club as a kid

from the suburbs

trolling the KC clubs

for wisdom and gigs―

and when DeVan asks

me to sit in, I struggle

with his kicks, the rhythms

he throws at me, polyrhythmic,

unpredictable: what pattern

will land next, and then Cheever,

a pasty white, portly drummer

with a pink house set,

puts a hand on my arm, says,

“He only sends three kicks.

Play one of those. Don’t think.

Don’t invent. Guess.”



Leaf Music


How the wind moves
the leaves, each leaf
like a note on the staff –
a quick, busy run,
16th and 32nd notes all over
and beyond the 5 lines.


Poet Laureate of Kansas (2017-2019), Kevin Rabas teaches at Emporia State University, where he leads the poetry and playwriting tracks and chairs the Department of English, Modern Languages, and Journalism. He has ten books, including Lisa’s Flying Electric Piano, a Kansas Notable Book and Nelson Poetry Book Award winner. Rabas’s plays have been produced across Kansas and in North Carolina and San Diego, and his work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize six times. He is the recipient of the Emporia State President’s Award for Research and Creativity and is the winner of the Langston Hughes Award for Poetry, the Victor Contoski Poetry Award, the Jerome Johanning Playwriting Award, and the Salina New Voice Award.