Snapshot of poet’s mother, 1972
Copyrighted © by Robert L. Dean, Jr.
Head bowed, body
|sheer sandstone cliff
||looming beneath the horizon
|like the weight of
||the world upon her shoulders,
|Mom trudges across
||a 1972 Colorado mesa top,
|an already fading
||surveyor stepping off the distance
|to the vertical black
||bar nothing rifting the center
|of this defective Ko
||dak moment, which,
|two decades later,
—Poem and snapshot were awarded honorable mention in the Basehor Community Library’s Picture Poetry Contest in April 2018 and were exhibited for a few weeks at the library. (Basehor is a suburb of Kansas City.)
is the author of two full-length books: The Aerialist Will Not Be Performing, ekphrastic poems and short fictions after the
art of Steven Schroeder (Turning Plow Press, 2020), and a poetry collection, At the Lake with Heisenberg (Spartan Press, 2018). His chapbook, Pulp, was published by Finishing Line Press in July 2022.
Nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2019 and multiple times for Best of the Net, his work has appeared in Chiron Review; Flint Hills Review; Heartland! Poetry of Love, Resistance & Solidarity; I-70 Review; Illya’s Honey; KYSO Flash; MacQueen’s Quinterly; MockingHeart Review; October Hill Magazine; Red River Review; River City Poetry; Sheila-Na-Gig online; Shot Glass; The Ekphrastic Review; Thorny Locust; and the Wichita Broadside Project.
A native Kansan, Dean studied music composition with Dr. Walter Mays at Wichita State University before going on the road as a bass player, conductor, and arranger; he was a professional musician for 30 years, playing with acts such as Jesse Lopez, Bo Didley, Frank Sinatra Jr., Vic Damone, Jim Stafford, Kenny Rankin, B. W. Stevenson, and the Dallas Jazz Orchestra. And he put in a stint with the house band at the Fairmont Hotel Venetian Room in Dallas. While living in Dallas, he also worked 20 years for The Dallas Morning News and made the transition from music to writing before moving back to Kansas in 2007.
Dean is a member of the Kansas Authors Club and The Writers Place, and the event coordinator for Epistrophy: An Afternoon of Poetry and Improvised Music, held annually in Wichita, Kansas. He lives in Augusta, Kansas, along with a universe of books, CDs, LPs, an electric bass, and a couple dozen hats. In his spare time, he practices the time-honored art of hermitry.
⚡ Hopper and Dean: Interview and poems in River City Poetry (Fall 2017).
⚡ Metal Man, ekphrastic poem inspired by a 1955 photograph of Dean’s paternal grandfather in the Boeing machine shop; published in The Ekphrastic Review (28 July 2018) and nominated for Best of the Net.
Two of Dean’s ekphrastic works in MacQueen’s Quinterly (Issue 5, October 2020): Impression, CNF after Berthe Morisot’s painting Woman and Child on a Balcony; and Eyes on You, a poem after Aurore Uwase Munyabera’s painting Conflict Resolution
Windmill, ekphrastic poem inspired by Dean’s maternal grandfather; published in KYSO Flash (Issue 11, Spring 2019) and nominated for the Pushcart Prize. This poem is among half-a-dozen of Dean’s ekphrastic works published in KYSO Flash (Issues 11 and 12).
⚡ Llama, 1957, ekphrastic haibun inspired by Inge Morath’s photograph A Llama in Times Square; published in The Ekphrastic Review (13 January 2018).