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Kevin Rabas

Knocking Out Walls with Chet Baker


for Artt Frank

Days, we knocked out walls

that summer. Nights,

we played clubs.

You were good 

with the hammer,

steady, sure.

You bent from the brick

and swung. I knew you 

would break through,

would find your way

into a woman’s heart.

You hefted your horn, held it

first like a hammer,

then like a child.

You knew just how

to swing one note

into another, how to 

breathe into metal,

make it warm.

Kevin Rabas

Poet Laureate of Kansas (2017-2019) Kevin Rabas teaches at Emporia State University, where he leads the poetry and playwriting tracks and chairs the Department of English, Modern Languages and Journalism. He has eleven books, including Lisa’s Flying Electric Piano, a Kansas Notable Book and Nelson Poetry Book Award winner; All That Jazz and Everyone Just Wants to Drum. Rabas’s plays have been produced across Kansas and in North Carolina and San Diego, and his work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize six times. He is the recipient of the Emporia State President’s Award for Research and Creativity and is the winner of the Langston Hughes Award for Poetry, the Victor Contoski Poetry Award, the Jerome Johanning Playwriting Award and the Salina New Voice Award.

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