KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 11: Spring 2019
Ekphrastic Poem: 250 words


by Robert L. Dean, Jr.

nothing makes it work: painting, acrylic on canvas (2014) by Steven Schroeder
nothing makes it work (acrylic and watercolor on canvas, 24x36 inches, 2014)
Copyrighted © by Steven Schroeder. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with artist’s permission.


You see it 
on the side of the graveled road 
traveling north from Highway 4 
towards the bones 
of a town called Hope 

you know it 
or believe you do 
the wind passing its blessing hand 
over the spikey red-brown heads 
your grandfather used to call 

hard red winter 
and you thought at first 
he was talking about 
a season 
only later you figured out he meant 

his life 
your life 
all the lives 
of all the people he fed 
all of the hard red winter people everywhere 

and you feel his hand 
the ghost of it 
passing over your Brylcreemed 
crew cut 
the red-brown spikes of it 

the hard rubber ridges 
of a tire as tall as you 
cutting into the seat of your Lee jeans 
the chug of the John Deere’s four cylinders 
pumping air with a rhythm you will only later 

associate with the perpetuation of life 
the sowing of the next generation 
only today in fact 
just you in the Hyundai 
and the ghost of callous-handed hope 

and you wonder who owns it now 
when the roof fell in 
the barn collapsed 
what made you drive up here this particular day 
after all the leavings 

fingers not touching 
lips not opening except to hurl 
hard red winter words 
what do you expect to find here 

the summer of your youth 
is long gone 
it walked out the door with Ruth and Emily and Bobby 
you turn on the wipers 
as the sky begins to cry 



Steven Schroeder
Issue 11, Spring 2019

is a visual artist and poet who was born in Wichita Falls, grew up on the high plains in the Texas Panhandle, and now lives and works in Chicago. He earned his Ph.D. (1982) at the University of Chicago and spent thirty years moonlighting as a philosophy professor at universities in the United States and China. He has been painting for more than 50 years and writing poetry for nearly that long.

More on the Web: By, About, and Beyond

Portfolio and additional details

Books and links to scholarly publications

Learning to See Nothing: New and Recent Work on Paper and Canvas by Steven Schroeder; exhibition catalog, Eleanor Hayes Art Gallery (Kinzer Performing Arts Center, Northern Oklahoma College in Tonkawa, Oklahoma; 4 September–18 October 2018)

Robert L. Dean, Jr.
Issue 11, Spring 2019

is the author of the poetry collection At the Lake with Heisenberg (Spartan Press, November 2018). His work has appeared in Flint Hills Review, I-70 Review, The Ekphrastic Review, Shot Glass, Illya’s Honey, Red River Review, River City Poetry, Heartland! Poetry of Love, Resistance & Solidarity, and the Wichita Broadside Project. He was a quarter-finalist in the 2018 Nimrod Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry, and read at the Scissortail Creative Writing Festival and the Chikaskia Literary Festival in 2018.

Dean has been a professional musician and worked at The Dallas Morning News. He lives in Augusta, Kansas, and serves as Event coordinator for Epistrophy: An Afternoon of Poetry and Improvised Music held annually in Wichita.

More on the Web: By, About, and Beyond

Hopper and Dean: Interview and poems in River City Poetry (Fall 2017)

Metal Man, ekphrastic poem by Dean inspired by 1955 photograph of his grandfather in the Boeing machine shop; published in The Ekphrastic Review (28 July 2018)

Llama, 1957, ekphrastic haibun by Dean inspired by Inge Morath’s photograph A Llama in Times Square; published in The Ekphrastic Review (13 January 2018)

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