Poetry — July 16, 2014 12:05 — 0 Comments

Two Poems – Matt Kelsey


Grief leans against the entrance
to my suite, wonders what’s in it

for her. She yearns for another
year of my secrets, all ears

to glass, glass to door. If I let her
in, there’ll be a familiar dance,

a chance to go toe-to-toe
with someone reliable.

Grief is long
and lovely in the arms,

patient with this touch-
and-go affair I’ve yet

to let her in on. So far,
into is all she knows

of what I’ve gotten, but not how
best to let it go. I hear her suggest

Go fish in hushed tones. I turn
on the faucet to pretend I’m busy

with dishes—who doesn’t love
a good red herring? But Grief

doesn’t believe
timing is everything,

doesn’t understand the humor I’ve come to
be rumored of. She withdraws

a small hammer, raps at the door
in regular, gentle code

what she wants. I am tapped
dry of meeting her metaphors

halfway, but she
is insistent in her ode, is still

in the hall. I worry over
if she’ll ever find her way

in, and, moreover, what she’ll do
when she does

and finds my heart
just isn’t in it.





My long-estranged mother found me
alone, in a room, no lights on
but a fan faintly clacking. She kissed me
on my forehead. I didn’t blink. She hung
a mobile above our heads, wept and lay
herself across my lap. Finally, she
was my baby. She reached for my finger
and puckered her lips. I pulled
away. She lifted my shirt in search
of a breast, but I quickly slapped her
hand. The mobile creaked on
sans song. I didn’t know what to do
to make her stop crying, so I began
to recite the names of cities slowly:
Kindred, North Dakota, Broken Arrow,
Oklahoma, Chattanooga, Tennessee…
She hushed, then spoke: I can’t
believe it’s you. But how—how
did you survive? I didn’t, I thought,
but I didn’t speak. I know I don’t deserve
to be held, she said and said, Go ahead,
darling, kill your mother. This is your
golden chance. I know, I said, and smiled,
and meant every bit of that smile.
Mother, I said, I was paying more
attention than you thought I was,
even when you thought I was. She shivered
in my arms. She cried, tried to reply—
gibberish. She grew smaller the more
I thought to forgive her. She again
tried to speak but simply dribbled
on her chin. I whispered, Hush
little baby, don’t you cry, Papa’s
gonna make sure you never die.
Miraculously, she fell sound asleep.
By the time the rest of the family
entered the room, she was nothing
but a trinket in my hand. It’s okay,
I said, then, Shhh, baby’s sleeping.


Poetry Northwest Editor, Matt Kelsey, and Pacifica Editor, Matt Muth, will be holding a reading at IPRC (in SE Portland) on August 9th from 7:30 - 9pm featuring Emily Kendal Frey, Brian Cooney, Donald Dunbar (and a fourth TBD).

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What am I?

Bioluminescent eye
That sees by the shine
Of its own light. Lies

Blind me. I am the seventh human sense
And my stepchild,

Scientists can't find me.

Januswise I make us men;
Was my image then—

Remind me:

The awful fall up off all fours
From the forest
To the hours…

Tick, Tock: Divine me.

-- Richard Kenney