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Tyler Sheldon

First Breaths of Arrival, by Tyler Sheldon










































Tyler Sheldon earned his Master of Arts from Emporia State University, where he taught English Composition and received the 2016 Charles E. Walton Graduate Essay Award. His poems and reviews have appeared in Coal City Review, The Dos Passos Review, Flint Hills Review, Quiddity, Thorny Locust, and other journals. His debut chapbook First Breaths of Arrival was published May 2016 by Oil Hill Press. Sheldon is now working on his MFA in Creative Writing at McNeese State University.

"My hometown of Hutchinson is vastly important to me. It's where I grew up and where I met many poets who influenced my life so far and my writing, including Steven Hind, Harley Elliott, Kevin Rabas, Denise Low, Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg, Amy Fleury, and Kim Stafford. Of course it's also the hometown of Kim's father William Stafford, who's been hugely influential in my writing. Emporia has been important as well--I earned my Bachelor's and Master's degrees at ESU, and began writing seriously there. My thesis focuses on the nature poetry of Wm. Stafford, Hind, and Elliott, so in a way it acts as a bridge between Hutchinson and Emporia. My grandmother lives in Roeland Park, Kansas, so that's always been a positive place for me as well."

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Driving Together (Meadowlark, 2018)
First Breaths of Arrival (Oil Hill Press, May 2016)
Traumas (Yellow Flag Press, 2017)

Publications: a Partial Listing

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Writing Samples  


When my time spins around,
I will return as a record store clerk
and customers will come and ask,
“Hey, man, what do you recommend?”
I’ll say try this one.

I’ll put on the album I’ve picked
and drop the needle-arm down.
The record will spin like the passing world.
When it reaches the end I’ll flip the LP over,
and we’ll listen again—
as many times as we need.

---First published in I-70 Review

Sea Ghosts of Kansas

Out here
on the plains none of us
really know all that much
about what we’re doing, and
in this sea ghost of tall grass
we call home,
the smallest rocks and
calcified shellfish which
come into our sandals and homes
are comforting and disarming
in the same breath. We are
the dubiously welcome
newcomers here, and not just
to any ancient people.
It’s worth remembering
out here
no one’s all that ancient. Once
if you didn’t have gills
then what the hell
after all
were you doing
out here
---first published in Quiddity International Literary Journal


As a baby I’m told I ate lemons,
grinding pulp between nubby teeth,
spitting seeds to the wind
or the garden overgrown
with yellow marigolds.

Our Schnauzer ate
gummy Payday candy bars,
peanuts in his sharp doggy teeth
while my parents painted
the kitchen yellow.

The neighbors’ fence became my spot
for cold, cold ice cream or small padded books,
and led to the faded yellow tetherball
out back before I knew about the owner’s
cheating, his wife’s insanity. Even then
I was across the street anyway,
in the middle of Oz,
so I was safe.

The street corner’s giant wooden bear
kept me safe on walks
through our neighborhood.
I would sail yellow paper ships
in the backyard pool,
make vinegar volcanoes,
be a kid because I was good at it,
and liked it that way.

---first published in 150 Kansas Poems

The Boxer
     for Frank Williams

At the old folks’ home, I
ask Frank what it is he does,
and hands streak the air black.
I back away. We laugh. Would he
train me? He stands, 
leads me to the heavy bag.

Frank tells me, keep those hands
up. Tighten those elbows. Peek
across your fingertips and jab.
He shows me how old men
can throw hands quicker.
“Keep ‘em tighter,” he says.
“Keep ‘em  up, ‘cause I’ll
hit you  if you let ‘em down.”
I take a hit, another.
I keep ‘em up. “Move,”
Frank says. “Move.”

Nobody messes
with Frank. He leads me
to the door. “Come back
tomorrow, kid, and  maybe
if you’ve practiced you’ll get
a hit in.” Frank smiles.
“No promises,” he says.
“No promises.”

---first published in Cybersoleil


In the Flint Hills
when walking, touch
the bluestem half-
way down the blade
to feel a finished thought
not yet in words.

Wait for squirrels
to make it halfway
up the cottonwoods
before approaching, and
don’t look for redemption.

In these hills,
you make your own.

---first published in Symphony in the Flint Hills Field Journal 2016

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Tyler Sheldon's website.

Tyler Sheldon is involved in the 150 Kansas Poems website.

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