A farmer checks on the early growth of soybeans. (United Soybean Board)

Life is full of mystery. We may know why the sky is blue, but why we are here, where missing socks go, and who wrote the book of love remain open questions. In light of President Trump’s shock-and-awe tariff campaign and the resulting blowback for the US farmers who voted for Trump and remain loyal, the question is: After so many decades of GOP devotion to the agenda of multinational grain and meat traders over the interests of the US and the folks back home, why do farmers still vote Republican?

Some cite the Second Amendment and Roe v. Wade


Bus stop on the east side of the Gold’s Building, downtown Lincoln, Nebraska. (Richard L. Schemling)

Richard L. Schmeling
Jul 25, 2018

Public transportation utilized by a great portion of our population can be a strong factor in reducing harmful emissions and reversing global warming.

Many environmental groups target coal-burning power plants as the major culprit regarding harmful air pollution. These plants are big, fat, and unmovable, and they represent easy targets. However, at least in Nebraska, our coal-burning power plants have been fitted with scrubbing devices and emit very little pollution. In the rush for a quick fix, we have overlooked a subtler pollution source — the cars and trucks on our streets and highways…


Brandon Marlon
Jul 23, 2018

Cockcrow’s rays against red-painted siding
add a fiery tincture, stark and arresting,
to an otherwise monotone surround
of swidden and forests pruned and pollarded,
a quiet haven redolent of timber and hay
where each thread of sound
is distinctly discerned and townspeople
come to rusticate or else when lost.

At prandial hours, grazing livestock mosey
along through sliding doors, past tractors
in various states of disrepair, keen on ensilage
to supplement their diets;
they casually disregard the ranch hand,
immersed in the sudorific ardor of labor,
forging a brand in the refiner’s fire.

All the…


This is the District 49 school group when my older brother, Edward, was in about the first grade, circa 1930. The nine girls were in a separate photo. The boy in the front row had several fingers chopped off in a hay-cutting machine. The “two-fingered boy” was still in school when I started.

Being required to sit for an hour and a half at a school desk was tolerated only by the fact that after that time we were liberated by recess. A full 15 minutes of freedom, and then after another hour or so, a whole hour of relative freedom.

A part of that hour had to be allocated to lunch. My brother and I had a “store-bought” lunch pail, which included a thermos bottle that Mom would fill with cocoa in cold weather. Some students had gallon buckets with lids to serve as lunch pails. Prior to partaking of lunch, everyone…


In the dark times
Will there also be singing?
— Bertolt Brecht

Desert morning, the stars
have wheeled in their arcs
to stand in their appointed doorways,

the coyotes return to their cubbyholes.
The great horned owl on the light pole
sees the neighborhood, sees, if he wants to,

how I stand shoeless on the cool sand,
lucky cuss, wingless bird that I am.

In the dark times there will be singing
and I, in a forgotten crevice in the universe,
will spread my arms and inhale deep, enormous.

Marjorie Saiser’s most recent book is I Have Nothing to Say about Fire (The Backwaters Press, 2016). Her work has been published in Prairie Schooner, Chattahoochee Review, Rhino, Rattle, Nimrod, Poetry East, Poet Lore, Field, The Writer’s Almanac, American Life in Poetry, and at poetmarge.com.

Originally published at prairiecitizen.com on April 23, 2018.


My country school was about two miles from home, if you went by county road. I usually cut across a cultivated field, which shortened the distance by about a quarter mile. In the winter my dad would sometimes drive me to school. Our car was a 1927 Whippet, which, like most cars of that time, did not have a heater. Starting this car in subfreezing temperatures was a hit-and-miss situation. Pouring hot water on the intake manifold often did not help, and the battery would run down in a futile starting attempt. This called for pushing the car out of…


Sandhill cranes. (Paul A. Johnsgard)

I am in danger of forgetting the cranes,
their black wavering lines in the sky,
how they came as if from the past,
how they came of one mind,
wheeling, swirling over the river.
I am in danger of losing
the purling sound they make,
and the motion of their long wings.
We had stopped the car on the river road
and got out, you and I,
the wind intermittent in our faces
as if it too came from a distant place
and wavered and began again, gusting.
Line after line of cranes
came out of the horizon,
sliding overhead…


It comes in the form of snowflakes, frost, cubes, hail, “cicles,” glaciers, bergs, and even the polar caps. It is as complex as being a component of global climate and as simple as keeping our drinks cool in summer.

Ice.

Nebraskans and other Great Plains dwellers can’t escape it in the winter, and sometimes it can go beyond an annoyance on a car’s windshield to being the cause of a flash flood in an ice-clogged river.

A History of Ice

Using ice to refrigerate and preserve food goes back to prehistoric times. Through the ages, seasonal harvesting of ice was regularly practiced by most…


South Party group picture, from left: Bert Schultz, Mylan Stout, Emery Blue, Robert Long, Loren Eiseley, Eugene Vanderpool, Frank Crabill. (Loren Eiseley Society/University of Pennsylvania Archives)

Loren Eiseley once likened the brain of a writer to an attic that stores pictures from the past — pictures that are later recalled and woven into story. Many of Eiseley’s stories in the books that won him international fame originated with experience he laid away in his early years in Nebraska. Now, more than ever, his message about humankind’s relationship to the environment is relevant in light of global warming, pollution, population growth, and resource depletion. …


We are respectfully continuing the tradition (started in Prairie Fire) of publishing pieces by Norris Alfred. Norris published the Polk Progress, a weekly Nebraska newspaper that lasted 82 years, from 1955 until its last issue in 1989. Norris was honored in his time — he was named Master Editor by the Nebraska Press Association and received a nomination for the Pulitzer Prize in 1980 — but his observations on human nature and politics in his “Polking Around” column, as well as his unpublished journal, are what make him so accessible to readers today.

Jobs and Satisfactory Living

August 27, 1987

We take issue with…

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