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"What is a monkey doing in central Kansas during the cattle days of the 1870s? Does Mulberry Pass still exist? And the limestone house that once attracted businessmen, railroad workers and cowboys--is it still there?

The monkey is the mascot of a house of prostitution, a limestone building along Mulberry Creek near Salina, Kansas."

This era of Kansas history still lives in Harley Elliott's The Monkey of Mulberry Pass. Harley Elliott writes more than fifty poems from JoJo the monkey's point of view; each is a sympathetic commentary on the animals--from humans to wolves--from an animal's point of view.

Harley Elliott, a Salina poet with eight published books, has long been interested in the relationships between people and their natural environment, especially animals. One of his books, Animals That Stand in Dreams, is an exploration of that relationship. Another book, Darkness at Each Elbow, explores the Kansas past, helps the reader to truly see the Kansas environment, and celebrates both our human and animal natures.

Harley Elliott is also a visual artist, and taught at Marymount College in Salina before that school was closed by the Catholic Church. He now works for the Salina Arts Council. His poems have the feel of the visual, the tactile, the sensory. They are laid out visually, so that line breaks and stanza breaks do the work of punctuation. Also, like many Kansas poems, they see into physical place as a vehicle for exploring the past and its relationship to the present. The Monkey of Mulberry Pass is Kansas history from one of the most unique perspectives in our literary history. Here is the first poem in the book:

    Mulberry Pass

    Kansas they call this place
    where most are only stopping.
    The cowboys all want Texas.
    The girls all dream of Denver.
    A rolling skin of soft long hills
    sky is all the rest.

    And the banker deals the money
    lawyer pleads the case
    doctor preacher undertaker
    wounds souls final holes
    these all stay.
    The house at Mulberry Pass
    in winter is theirs

    where thin-blooded
    afternoons of cold
    eyes lazy and fat they
    smoke in the parlor
    and speculate:

    the number of loads of firewood in any tree

    the pelts living in the river

    the market value
    of a monkey skin.


 

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The Monkey of Mulberry Pass
by Harley Elliott

5-1/2" X 8-1/2"
70 pages
paperback
1991
$7.00

0-939391-15-5

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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