In Late for Cymbal Line Kevin Rabas is on drums. His jazz licks pop the snare, lively, energetic; his tempo runs from the ratta tats of the poems to the husha husha of the brushed prose. Rabas’s characters are created from spit and blood and prairie flowers. They wail and woo in the neon of Kansas City jazz clubs and in the Schlitz glow of the Kansas roadhouse, thumping the Ludwig’s bass pedal and clanking the flea market’s cow bell. Rabas’s poems and prose rolls through multiple worlds from his reflection at the window table. — Al Ortolani

In each short poem, Kevin Rabas builds a frame around a specific point in time. He pulls readers into the scene and offers his story. His easy style of writing feels familiar, makes us question whether it’s his memory, or our own. When William Shatner rode his motorcycle into a small Kansas town on a 95-degree day, Rabas was there, “…and so Shat comes in sweat drenched, red-faced, heart-attack hot, and we look it up: he’s 84; tough old dog, one time commander of a fleet starship.” In this delightful book, Rabas proves once again that he is a master at capturing the heat—and the heart—of any given moment. — Cheryl Unruh

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There is something of the kernel of reminiscence in Kevin Rabas’s work, a sense that for all its artfulness, the poems are the purest distillation of memory and feeling. At its heart, this collection pays homage not just to a particular feisty father, but to all fathers that we love in their peculiarities and imperfections. The writing is deft and observant, with an understated humor and warmth. At the same time, it is a celebration of “the lick and needle of fire, song,” that is, to the making of music. Through Rabas’s words, we are welcomed to an insider’s view of a drummer’s realm, where we learn of the timekeeper’s measured ticks and splintered drumsticks. — Donald Levering

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Rabas is an astute and wary watcher, and in his watching, the populous worlds of school rooms, drum rooms and birthing rooms become saturated with a plain-spoken worldliness. The creatures of Rabas’s observations speak without speaking. A fatigued bully slows in chase of his kill; a boy makes a luminous wind with a violin bow; a suburban kid wears his heart on his sweet tooth. We think we know these characters, in our neighbors and friends and childhood memories. But Rabas makes us know them deeper, and in that deeper familiarity we can discover something of our own lives, too. — Leah Sewell

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[This] collection of earthy, sensual and wide-ranging poems speaks with simplicity and familiarity at times or sings to us in riffs of harmonic blues. These poems, which can start with seemingly ordinary backdrops, manage to show us something of a raging human heart, raging for intensity and raging for connection. The stories and pictures of Rabas’s poems make big discoveries in little things. These discoveries sometimes jar us, sometimes soothe us, but always leave us with an emotional pulsing that, like the music he so often writes of, “tug us out to sea.”
— Marina Jaffe

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Kevin Rabas’s second poetry collection, Lisa’s Flying Electric Piano, explores the effects of a life structured by music, woven amid a series of failed, yet forever impacting relationships. From learning (“Jack McCann’s Own Hometown Marching Band”) to playing (“Playing for Dave”) to understanding its power (the title poem, “Lisa’s Flying Electric Piano”), music is the backdrop, the blood, and the fuel to this series of beautifully taut relationships.
— Caleb J. Ross

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The poems in Kevin Rabas’s collection Bird’s Horn & Other Poems keep the back beat of human existence with their tender and steady observations. In a luminous fusion of language and music, Rabas syncopates and celebrates the jazz improvisations we call life.
— Amy Fleury