Kansas Burning

by Mark Jay Brewin, Jr.

We cut the hatchback through the empty plains and stare at the night’s face, its remoteness like language—the horizon with its flicker of tower lights on wind turbine blades, the spinning propeller’s oars found and lost between the glowing bulb and blank dark—and finally surrender to the tug for the unspoiled vista of starlight. The engine goes cold as we stare above. The tires’ low hum fades from the pit of our teeth. The firmament draws in to each wavering speck.
                                                  Soon, morning fog will wind-sweep to smoke, the burnt prairie’s shoulders will carry dusk’s shadow and, half-asleep, we will dart across the grassland again, passing a new, measureless distance: one of charred seed-coats and fields, redbuds rooted in the dipping plains of spent wicks and pockets of water. One of fires licking ditches along the interstate. One of milky pink petals blazing among the ash.

MARK JAY BREWIN, JR is a graduate of the MFA program at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale. His poems have been published or are forthcoming in Beloit Poetry Journal, Virginia Quarterly Review, The Cortland Review, North American Review, Prairie Schoonerand elsewhere. His first collection, Scrap Iron, won the 2012 Agha Shahid Ali Prize in Poetry at the University of Utah Press. He has been awarded the 2010 Yellowwood Prize from the Yalobusha Review, the 2015 Sweet Corn Prize from Flyway: Journal of Environment & Writing, as well as been nominated for several Pushcart Prizes. He is currently a Contributing Editor to the poetry journal Cave Wall. For more of his work, please visit his website: http://MarkJayBrewinJr.com.