Escape from Emporia


Hometown Girl
Peter Pan Park
Strong City
William Allen White Library
The Sunken Garden
South of the Tracks

Hometown Girl

“I think of you often”
—D. A. Powell
“Cherry Blossoms in Spring,”
Useless Landscape

One thing I learned from—
My mother’s divorce & 2 marriages

Was that sex was pretty much—
Highly overrated in our small town

Emporia was just a Peyton Place—
So what else was there to do?

But get drunk at the VFW—
Dance & smoke all weekend long?

Her second marriage to a young—
Stud from Olpe was a total wreck

If the Ship’s Lounge could only—
Talk about hanky-panky adultery

No wonder I shunned str8ts and—
Turned into an inveterate drag queen

Climbing that Stairway To Heaven—
All the way up, down on my knees!!!


“where many a shallow
boy got dumped”
—D. A. Powell
“Cherry Blossoms in Spring,”
Useless Landscape

All the way down along—
Shady Constitution Street

Past the Baptist Church—
Where Coach Smith grew up

His father in the old photos—
EHS basketball team 1937

Past EHS and Lowther—
That’s where the YMCA was

A chance to swim nude—
Erect in the turbulent pool

Where the wrestling team—
Turned me into an S & M queen

Pinned by Arnoldo Lopez—
I was his screamy Lupe Velez

Peter Pan Park

“in this indifferent orchard”
—D. A. Powell
“Cherry Blossoms in Spring,”
Useless Landscape

Past Sixth Avenue down—
All the way to the City Pool

Where George Wathen—
Lifeguard stud sneered at me

He had my number—
As I X-rayed his big crotch

I needed it really bad—
Lotsa artificial respiration

Peter Pan Park at night—
Cruising Monkey Island tricks

Getting picked up late—
There by the Tennis Courts


“there’s almost
nothing to go back to”
—D. A. Powell
“Cherry Blossoms in Spring,”
Useless Landscape

I’ve gone back and—
Pieced it all together again

The wide flat streets—
Full of cool elm afternoons

Down State Street—
Past the Hood Mansion

Where Miss Howard—
The Spanish teach lived

Down past Roberts-Blue—
Where cute Jimmy Barnett lived

Lotsa business, my dear—
For Peyton Place stiffs

Strong City

“wild forms are with us
always, though fleeting”
—D. A. Powell
“End of Days,”
Useless Landscape

He waited for me—
After school in his pick-up

His blue corduroy FFA jacket—
His shit-kickin cowboy boots

By the time we got to—
The Z Bar Ranch it was late

He was a young rancher’s son—
His father was filthy rich

After a six-pack of Coors—
He’d bang his head back hard

Against the Chevy’s gun-rack—
The country station on the radio

He taught me everything there was—
To know about animal husbandry

William Allen White Library

“It wasn’t only Amtrak
pulling trains at night”
—D. A. Powell
Useless Landscape

Before Amtrak showed up—
And Burlington-Northern

The Santa Fe Railroad—
Pretty much ran the town

That’s where you worked—
After graduating from EHS

I went to KSTC instead—
And became a prim Librarian

The stacks back then my home—
The William Allen White Library

Art deco Senate Apartments—
Kitty-corner across the street

Inheriting from my parents—
That place on Constitution St

Miss Havisham goth recluse—
Giving up on Great Expectations

The Sunken Garden

“I only give you back
what you imagine”
—D. A. Powell
“The Fluffer Talks of Eternity,”
Useless Landscape

Just call me poor Alma—
In that Tennessee Williams play

“Summer and Smoke” evenings—
There in the Sunken Garden

It was a lot more sunken—
Back then in the late Fifties

Lots of bushes and privacy—
For those in the know

That’s where I got to meet—
Grown-up guys from Kansas City

Like that handsome young salesman—
Alma met in the park that night

I got to meet some myself—
Lonely students far away from home

Ghostly gothic Norton Hall—
Looming down disapproving of me

South of the Tracks

“The state, begun as a series
of missions, used native men
& women as cheap labor”
—D. A. Powell
“Seven Sketches for a
Landscape, Unfinished”
Useless Landscape

The Santa Fe Railroad—
Employed 200 Mexican-Americans

With documentation dating—
Back to 1907 from Old Mexico

They worked the yards and tracks—
In return, living in little brick houses

"Las Casitas" known as “La Colonia”—
Owned by the Santa Fe railroad

South of the tracks on the north—
Side of South Avenue at Arundel Street

I remember feeling sorry for—
John Rangel and the other Hispanics

When Wood Bloxom would get into—
His racist rants about minorities

They didn’t have a chance—
The old grizzled Gargoyle would opine

The same with women who dared—
To show their intelligence over men

He hated Merit Scholarship winners—
Especially the young girls in class

He’d been teaching since the ‘30s—
The same old Euclidian stuff forever

The football players yawned while—
His sage Voice droning on and on…

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