Robert Curgenven, 11 years old, on the front page
of the Wichita Evening Eagle (23 April 1956)
We step over death,
irked it hasn’t thudded our porch this morning,
neatly folded. Don’t bother to look
under the blanket in the front yard
of the white clapboard house with the busted window
where our knock goes unanswered. Don’t notice it
breakfasting on coffee cake in the kitchen.
All we want is
Ike And Adlai In Primary Test
Khrushchev Boasts of H-bomb Missile
Seasick Princess Recovers
that it stare not so blankly back
from such a scrubbed bisque face,
thumbs hooked in belt, boot poised
like some big-game hunter who’s lost count
on the woodpile where he hid the rifle,
Coke-bottle lenses dead centered on us.
Four strokes for brother as he milks the cow.
Two goodnight kisses for Dad rushing out.
One shattered window to break Mom’s heart.
Reloading, spitting bullets like baby teeth...
Quiet supper of frankfurters and beans,
pen-knifed lid, tin moon waning,
family tucked in, sound night’s sleep.
Down the steps, over the blanket, into the new day,
he’s got news to deliver
(canvas bag on hallway hook).
4 feet 5 inches
no visible scars
“...talking in a normal way”
neighbor John E. Powers stated.
But what we really want
as we turn off the late news, power down the computer,
check the children, the kitchen cabinets, the dark behind the sofa,
what we really need from this blurry UP Telephoto,
datelined decades of tonights ago,
not some snap-brimmed detective off to one side,
in a Big-Chief tablet.
is the author of two books: a poetry collection, At the Lake with Heisenberg (Spartan Press, November 2018), and The Aerialist Will Not Be Performing, ekphrastic poems and short fictions after the art of Steven Schroeder (Turning Plow Press, 2020).
His writings have appeared or are forthcoming in Chiron Review; Flint Hills Review; Heartland! Poetry of Love, Resistance & Solidarity; I-70 Review; Illya’s Honey; KYSO Flash; MacQueen’s Quinterly; Red River Review; River City Poetry; Shot Glass; The Ekphrastic Review; and the Wichita Broadside Project. His work has been nominated multiple times for the Pushcart Prize and the Best of the Net anthology award; he was a quarter-finalist in the 2018 Nimrod Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry; and he read at the Scissortail Creative Writing Festival and the Chikaskia Literary Festival in 2018 and 2019.
Dean has been a professional musician, having played bass for, among others, Jesse Lopez, B. W. Stephenson, Bo Didley, The Dallas Jazz Orchestra, and the house band for the Fairmount Hotel Venetian Room. He grew up in Topeka and Wichita, Kansas before spending 30 years between Los Angeles and Dallas, where he worked at The Dallas Morning News. He now lives in Augusta, Kansas, and serves as Event coordinator for Epistrophy: An Afternoon of Poetry and Improvised Music held annually in Wichita.
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