Tag Archives: #Kansasprobz

Regular Poem: Angle of Repose

29 Apr

learned a new phrase today
that will inevitably
pop up in my brain in the future
and bang around for a few weeks
with a lot of self-reflection and metaphor attached to it

maybe i can nip it in the bud
and deal with it now
and mercifully forget about it
i doubt that
but it’s worth a try

angle of repose:
the steepest angle at which a certain granule can be stacked
with others of like kind before sliding

i’ve spent a lot of time driving
the kansas countryside
seeing big piles of wheat or beans or sand or rock or whatever
just out in the open
sometimes on a tarp sometimes on a burnt stretch of field
sometimes covered by a tarp sometimes just beholden to breeze and precipitation

and i have wondered about that
angle of repose
but never had the terminology for it
until a few hours ago

i guess you see it in anthills too
and molehills
any hill
any dirt will do

what is too much atmospheric pressure
what is too much weight
before collapse
and is it a collapse so much as a reconfiguration

more interesting than the angle of repose might be
the cirumference of the pile
how does the pile get into such a perfect circle
or perfect cone as it were

it’s all about angles and pi and force and gravity
i suppose
which i never took in school
but i like the idea of it

i think my personality was wasted in a number of ways
both ways of my own making
and ways outside my control

i could’ve probably been a very good theoretical mathematician
or at the very least pop science writer
and i could’ve taken steps to have chosen that but didn’t
i also would’ve been a very effective mean big sister to somebody but that wasn’t my fault
and i would’ve been so so good at being a quack “doctor” in the 1890s or so but that wasn’t my fate either

angle of repose though
such a romantic little phrase
sounds like how many pillows an elegant lady needs for optimal comfort lying on a chaise

maybe not romantic maybe bleak
sounds like how much one must fold oneself and twist oneself to fit into a prescribed role so that there’s not so much societal friction

sounds like a lot of things
sounds good–
the sounds themselves that is
a very pleasing phrase
that feels good to say
opens up the mouth in a lot of ways–
and yet its meaning is about a closing
a cap a limit

i certainly haven’t dealt with it thoroughly enough for it to not sprout again soon
it will be back to haunt me
the next time i’m climbing a grain bin
or even driving past one
or perhaps just drinking a baja blast with a completely empty mind

Regular Poem: State Slogans

12 Apr

you’ve got your
big sky country
and your
last frontier
and your
lone star state
mile high state
garden state
natural state
and your
ok so far so good

but let me lay this one on you
what state would you associate with
as big as you think

came across this one on an online quiz
got immediately offended
and looked it up
it’s as much real as it is nonsense

as you might’ve guessed
it’s kansas

what’s it supposed to mean
who actively thinks about how big kansas is
it’s only the thirteenth largest state by area
a respectable showing but nothing to write a tourism slogan about

and most importantly
is it supposed to be as dirty as it sounds
i keep just saying it over and over to myself
in a lauren bacall voice
surely that’s the only way to say it

we don’t have a great track record in this area
the one before this was
the land of ahs

i get the wordplay
but come on
that is also dirty
could’ve and honestly should’ve gone with the awe spelling

who’s in charge of this stuff
and do they run it by anyone
with half a brain
before they print it on billboards

i’m embarrassed
but i’m even more embarrassed
that i kind of dig it

Regular Poem: Tornado Season

26 Apr

I don’t think
I’d replace all four
bathing suits

just bare bones at first
focus on the essentials

a couple weeks worth of panties
and some cute luggage
to carry them in
live in a motel for a while

like some noir protagonist
on the lam
buy a cheap jalopy
that runs on sawdust and willpower
spending my days
calling the insurance company
on a rotary phone
sitting in the dark
ambling through wet shadowed alleys
in a damp second-hand trench coat
with a throaty narration playing somewhere
running into other displaced people
and nodding grimly
getting into fights in bars

that is
if my house
didn’t land on a witch.

Regular Poem: The Biggest Mystery

29 Apr

She’s from Florida,
and her perpetual refrain goes

Is it like this all the time?

Well, yes and no,
we all say–
we’re all so wise and old
about the weather here.

We give her facts and anecdotes
and tell her things that start with
and end with
…but you never know.

It’s not
Sunny California or
Rainy Seattle or
anything else that’s ever on tv, so
she’s perennially flabbergasted
at the vagaries
of the wind and rain and heat.

And she always asks
as though
Kansas weather
is the biggest mystery of all.

Regular Poem: We expect commitment from our fog

23 Apr

The cloud
vying for the coveted position of
must be hearty,
must bring salty spring smells,
must be able to withstand severe wind.

We expect
from our fog
here in Kansas.

If you want to just linger in a ditch on cool mornings
and laze around until noon,
move on out.
We’ll wait

for some cloud
who will bring its own sandbags
and hunker down
to blur all the streetlights
and roll up its sleeves
to endure 50 mph wind.


Regular Poem: Springtime Smell

30 Apr

When your hair feels dirty but it isn’t dirty
or when your hair is dirty but doesn’t feel dirty
or when your hair looks dirty but could be quite dirtier
and you can smell your own strange salty smokey smell
like a small cloud of a warm moist you
that smells like your hair but not exactly
and you wonder if everyone can smell it too and wonder
if everyone can identify the precise dirtiness of your hair

that’s how you know it’s really truly springtime
because it’s a time that is perpetually paradoxically
both wet and dry
dirty and clean
and you feel so moist all the time
but also your hair is dry and gritty feeling
and that smell might not even be you
but a smell in the air
because it’s kind of an outside smell
a dirt smell (not dirty but dirt)
a pollen smell
an earthworms smell
a breeze over a man-made lake smell
a smell that’s a nature smell
but is kind of gross, too
and kind of wet and kind of dry
and clammy
and half-sunburned
and salty and sour
but also fresh and natural.
And it’s springtime.

Regular Poem: Wind

26 Apr

But I’m less
a stranger
to the wind

howling or whispering or whistling
or jarring or scarring or whipping
or crying or gusting or lashing

but most likely
just plain blowing

and blowing hard

across a wet landscape quickly drying
(you can almost see the wetness dissipate, dissolve, go back to the sky)

or across a dry landscape quickly drying more
(you can absolutely see specks of dust fly kamikaze toward your face
and you can absolutely feel them impact your skin, pointy and punchy
on your eyelids
and lips
and hear the pings of the missiles on your jacket
so close together they sound like a shower)

or across a medium-dry landscape
(you can almost see the reverberations of a gale
when you get caught next to a semi
and it’s like you’re in a bubble made up of the gaseous form of anxiety)

or against your window beating loud like the police
the wind always has a warrant
and he’s never afraid of using
excessive force.

Book 'Em, Jan O

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