Thursday, May 30, 2013



always having been
my Gulag Archipelago

But it wasn’t—
until Yaddo that
I really knew

Across the hallway—
Chester Himes had
drinks with me

We talked—
and talked & talked
long into the night

I was horrified—
by his Chicago
rat stories

But even more—
by his feeling guilty
for his black skin

Is that why—
I exiled myself
to Switzerland?

I could be—
white as snow
not feeling guilty?

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Bijou Bildungsroman


Kansas as a bad movie—
a failed Filmography of dreams
the story of my so-called life

There in the cool Granada—
air-conditioned in the summers
saved by Hollywood fantasies

Then standing afterwards—
under the bright marquee
there on Commercial Street

Dazed even delirious—
still lost in some filmic dream

Saturday matinee thrillers—

While the grim, grimacing old—
Presbyterian Church across the
street looked down and frowned 

Predicting a doomed boyhood—
of too much excessive fantasy
and literary trouble-making

After all my dears, surely it was—
Hollywood and the Granada that
turned me into a decadent Fag!!!

Kansas in Cinemascope


bad enough I suppose

Up there on the silver—
screen of the ancient
film palace GRANADA

cheesy angelic choruses plus
Spencer Tracy’s booming voice

Things ending up more like—
a nightmare version of

Such a lovely little town—
full of Midwestern Noir
and grim resignation 

Stoic desperation—
ending up quietly
in sad obituaries

Box Office Treats


“to brief a treat”
—Truman Capote to
Robert Linscott 5/6/1949

My boyfriends back then—
were much too much
too brief a treat

Those lovely Granada—
balcony quickies in the
dark down on my knees

Anything, my dears—
was better than that
awful Midwestern noir

Even tacky, butchy—
Charlton Heston all
sweaty in BEN HUR

Altho I preferred—
sleazy Lana Turner in

Claiming her daughter—
knifed handsome gangster 
hung Johnny Stompanato 

Granada Alcove


“This is the last time
I am ever going to
write “a reportage.”
—Truman Capote
to Richard Avedon
Sept 22, 1960

Kansas was simply—
depressing enough without
doing a movie about it

Writing a novel—
was bad enough all
those dreary nights

There in Garden City—
at the No Tell Motel with
those traveling salesmen

Harper Lee simply—
abandoning me there
without a fag hag guide

Like Blanche DuBois—
I had to depend on the
kindness of strangers

But all those paranoid—
Holcomb farmboys
didn’t like me, honey

Neosho/Cottonwood River Anthology


"The cemetery was my playground"
Cheryl Unruh, "Remembering the Dead," Fly Over People, Emporia Gazette

Short, brief, epigrammatic—
reminding me of Edgar Lee Master’s 

Visiting my mother Amy’s grave—
grandparents Larkin’s graves there in
Memorial Lawn/Maplewood Cemetery

Those same nostalgic, lonesome—
heartache feelings for those we once 
knew so well and loved so much

Emporia has grown way out past—
the cemetery and the flagpole where 
Memorial Day was once recognized 

By the VFW, GAR & DAR when I was a kid—
he Civil War dead not far away, but gone now
like the old Emporia County Courthouse 

The streets of Emporia lined with—
Chase County quarry limestone, sidewalks, 
bridges, church foundations, businesses

The little Athens of the Midwest college town—
slowly but surely becoming a ghost town like 
so many other small Kansas towns

Perhaps someday some writer like—
Masters will write about all of us in his own version 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Piano in a Wheatfield

Flint Hills Side Road
Cheryl Unruh


“Returning home is like that.
The future gets left behind, 
a piano dumped on a stark
prairie.”—Robert Rebein
Dragging Wyatt Earp: A 
Personal History of Dodge City

It’s out there somewhere—
lost a huge gold wheatfield

With the Chevy pickup—
it’s all gone, ruins in the wind

The windmill, the big red barn—
the farmhouse and grainery

All you can hear is the—
piano strings whispering

North by Northwest


“Suddenly you’re left with 
nothing but your life and 
the past.”—Robert Rebein
Dragging Wyatt Earp: A 
Personal History of Dodge City

I said I’d never come back—
taking the swank Super Chief

Outta town like Cary Grant—
North by Northwest 

Making love in Jill St. John’s—
compartment all the way

Past the Illinois cornfields—
fast thru the wheatfields

Never to return I said—
but then, of course, well

I never really left did I—
no flights outta Wichita?

Couldn’t ever escape—
the lonely Fly Over State

My past still always—
dragging Commercial Street?

Piano in a Wheatfield

David Leiker


“Returning home is like that.
The future gets left behind, 
a piano dumped on a stark
prairie.”—Robert Rebein
Dragging Wyatt Earp: A 
Personal History of Dodge City

It’s out there somewhere—
lost a huge gold wheat-field

With the Chevy pickup—
it’s all gone, ruins in the wind

The windmill, the big red barn—
the farmhouse and grainery

All you can hear is the—
piano strings whispering

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Kansas Gothic Intelligentsia


—for Connie, Roberta, Theresa,  
Jan and Kenton

We’ve all been tainted by it—
America Gothic deep inside us

There’s no such thing as the—
FLY OVER STATE aesthetic

It’s deep inside us & it’s not—
gonna budge or go anywhere

Just look at this lovely photo—
such exquisite young naivete

Dearest Connie and Theresa—
lovely Roberta and gone Jan

The intelligentsia, my dears—
such young Emporia literati

Elsie Pine took one look at me—
told me to come back to her

From then on we talked—
tea time there in her home

She was the Grande Dame—
the true Librarian Goddess

Long before the Eisenhower—
William Allen White Library

She gathered her coterie—
young Kansas writers together

I was unique though—
I came to her with credentials

Talented lesbians sensed that—
I was quite capable of knowing

Mildred Kaff and her lover—
Vina Hillerman the Artist

They knew my mother—
Amy Jane was their student

And suddenly I popped up—
totally unexpected by them

The Lesbos goddesses—
sailing by high overhead

Here is our gift to you—
this nelly prairie boy

Help him to be who he’ll be—
it will be difficult for him

We’ve chosen his home—
Athens of the Midwest town

Let him to be the Voice—
of summer cicada evenings

The boy of Peter Pan Park—
the kid who Mary White was

WAW laid the groundwork—
the Park, the Lake, the Muse

And so the Voice came—
all the way from Kensington Park

The wrestling team knew it too—
as we worked out after school

Down by Peter Pan Lake—
there on the mats after school

Arnold Lopez in YMCA showers—
knowing all too well who I was 

Shoving my face against the wall—
a bar of soap stuck up my ass

Knowing me better than—
I could possibly know myself

There in the moody YMCA—
I became who I am

Later Marjorie Sullivan sensed it—
Jaquith and Doxtator knew it too

They knew I was different—
But what could they possibly do?

How could they know—
I still don’t know who I am

What do I know about Kansas—
other than it’s MYSTERIOUS

like Scott Heim says

But then what do I know—
am I gay Kansas poet laureate?

Saturday, May 4, 2013



It all seems so coincidental—
so synchronicity sexy

The way I fell in love with this—
handsome AKL fraternity stud

He took me to Kansas City—
a lot of the KSTC guys 

Came from there because—
it was easy to get into Emporia

The Teachers College & C of E—
that’s where they sent them

The parents of highschool guys—
who couldn’t make it big time

They ended up in Emporia—
wise-guy cosmopolitan studs

Their way of dealing with it—
joining a racy drunk fraternity

I fell in love with this guy—
he was drop-dead handsome

He took me back to Kansas City—
fucked his girlfriend in front of me

Smirked when I got weak—
falling to my abject knees

Got me to do all his homework—
just to fuckin be around him

I hung around the AKL House—
playing pool and cruising guys

The Kansas City cocks were like—
much more sexy & sophisticated

He got killed on the highway—
up by Allen after he got married

Coming down from Topeka—
getting his Masters in Psychology

He fell asleep at the wheel and—
wrecked his VW completely

His beautiful body there on the—
cold concrete stupid highway

Later when I came back to town—
the AKL Fraternity had moved 

Kitty-corner across the street—
from my Constitution St home

The Senate Apartments—
the new home of young meat

Jaysus christ the seminal vibes—
comin outta that fuckin joint!!!!

It’s like his male vibes—
were still alive & needed it

Knowing that was my home—
zeroing right into my psyche...

Kansas Poet Laureate


Well, my dears—
surely it’s time for KANSAS

In all its SUNFLOWER Majesty—
and WIZARD OF OZ Grandeur

With all its golden WHEATFIELDS—
and stuffed glutted Grain Towers

Its melodious Meadowlarks singing—
its wondrous Tall Grass prairies

Yes, let’s include even Lawrence—
hotbed of William S. Burroughs

With all his NAKED LUNCH porno—
and unforgivable love of CATS!!!!

I mean really if Independence KS—
can possibly tolerate that faggot

Miss William Inge there in his naïve—
hometown Community College

Well, then surely it’s time my dears—
for the astute FLY OVER STATE

To finally bestow its esteemed—

First KANSAS Faggot Poet Laureate—
surely I certainly qualify, my dears

To poeticize and pontificate the—

Peter Pan


Up the staircase—
with my flashlight

Past the library up into—
the inner sanctum above

She was full of memories—
it’s all she had left back then

She told me about when—
J. M. Barrie came to town

WAW greeted Barrie at the—
Classic Old Santa Fe Station 

With the high school band—
playing the welcome songs

Dedicating Peter Pan Park—
to the great British playwright

A Lake, an Amphitheater—
even a Monkey Island 

Duplicating Hyde Park there—
in London where Miss Barrie

Erected her statue overnight—
to the Youth he loved 

The same with WAW—
worshipping his daughter

Whatever WAW did—
he did simply FIRST CLASS

Red Rocks


They gather on the front porch—
on lovely Sunday summer afternoons

They pretend to reminisce quaintly—
about their small town literary legacy 

They sigh and relax in the afterglow—
of delicate Kansas memories

How the bourgeois love to pretend—
to surely be above it all

The shabby decay and deterioration—
of their little Athens of the Midwest

The former little college town down—
by the Santa Fe Railroad tracks

The Home of Twinkies and Tackiness—
Iowa Beef and Tyson Chicken Factory

Now the Burlington Railroad doesn’t—
even slow down shipping its freight thru

The classic old Train Station burned down—
Commercial Street now a Ghost Town

The renovated Granada Theater moody—
reminiscent of SUNSET BLVD days

And so the Kansas literati gather there—
worshipping at the Red Rocks Temple

Little do they know that Mary White—
haunts the attic up there all alone

Alone in Kansas


When did I realize it—
that I was lost to the world?

Even though I fled the Midwest—
all the way out to the West Coast?

Was it when I came back to Emporia—
for my mother’s funeral?

One look at the mourning crowd—
gathered in Robert Blue funeral home

And I left knowing I was totally—
completely alone now for sure

Then at the Fiftieth Reunion of my—
EHS class when I was there but

Decided to spend the day instead—
sitting by the Cottonwood River

Knowing that I came alone into—
Kansas and that I’d leave alone too

Friday, May 3, 2013

We Disappear


—for Vina Hillerman, Mildred Kaff
and Elsie Pine

“The little girls who found the body
of the missing boy were not angels,
although that is how the newspaper
described them, the following morning,
beneath the headline. They had no
haloes or transparent wings. They
had no heavenly warmth or sweet,
scarless faces kissed individually by
God.”—Scott Heim, WE DISAPPEAR

They found me there in Emporia—
Vina, Mildred and Elsie Pine

They were my Lesbos Mentors—
my Glinda Fairy Godmothers

They took me under their wing—
made me aware of myself

Protected me from the bullies—
encouraged the gay spark

Knowing that little Emporia—
was no Athens of the Midwest

It was just a Santa Fe Cowtown—
out in the middle of nowhere

Not the place, honey, for nelly—
little cowboys like yours truly

Straight outta little Emporia—
Escape from the Flyover State!!!

The William Inge Seance


The 32nd annual William Inge Theatre Festival at the Independence William Inge Center for the Arts at Independence Community College, Kansas, May 1-4 2013

"Playwright — Author — Homosexual"

William Inge was a true professional entertainer that took pride in what he presented. A serious playwright gifted with GAY sleight of hand, he could perform miracles on stage as well as right under the noses of a closely gathered heterosexual spectators.

With four consecutive Broadway hits, a Pulitzer Prize, and an Oscar, William Inge was one of the top dramatists of the mid-20th century.

A still-unmatched record of four consecutive Broadway hits in Come Back, Little Sheba (1950); Picnic (1953); Bus Stop (1955); and The Dark at the Top of the Stairs (1957). They are best known to audiences today through their entertaining if not completely faithful film versions; Inge didn’t get to do the adaptations. He did, however, write directly for the screen, and he won an Oscar for his original screenplay for 1961’s Splendor in the Grass, which starred Natalie Wood and Warren Beatty and was directed by Elia Kazan.

Inge’s experience had been garnered by performing as "closet-case magician" at various theaters...and by demonstrating his skill at private parties, banquets, corporate events and other social functions.

His material was "straight" as well as both humorous and nostalgic, maintaining his heteronormative  bookings primarily through word-of-mouth gossip and deceptive advertising.

INGE: I’ve returned tonight. From the other side…

MADAME SOSOSTRIS: Welcome, William.

INGE: Welcome? I always hated Independence.

MADAME SOSOSTRIS: But, my dear!!!

INGE: I hated Broadway and Hollywood, too!!!

MADAME SOSOSTRIS: But, William! We’re having the 32nd annual William Inge Theatre Festival here at the Independence William Inge Center for the Arts at lovely Independence Community College, Kansas.

INGE: Are you kidding? Most of the town citizens hated my guts, objected to the Center because of my homosexuality and fame. I despise them all.

MADAME SOSOSTRIS: Ladies and Gentlemen. This concludes our séance with the ghost of Miss Inge tonight. Please forgive me. I’m having an attack of acute Occult Paranoia with the Nelly Spirits tonight. Turn on the lights!!! Let’s get outta here!!!