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Poetry Summer 2014    fiction    all issues


Anne Rankin-Kotchek
Letter to the World
from a Dying Woman
& other poems

Sara Graybeal
Ghetto City
& other poems

Tee Iseminger
& other poems

Lisa Beth Fulgham
After They Sold the Cows...
& other poems

Mary Mills
The Practical Knowledge
of Women
& other poems

Monika Cassel
Waldschatten, Muttersprache
& other poems

Michael Fleming
To a Fighter
& other poems

Daniel Stewart
& other poems

John Glowney
& other poems

Hannah Callahan
The Ptarmigan Suite
& other poems

Lee Kisling
How the Music Came
to My Father
& other poems

Jose A. Alcantara
Finding the God Particle
& other poems

David A. Bart
Veteran’s Park
& other poems

Greg Grummer
War Reportage
& other poems

Rande Mack
& other poems

J. K. Kitchen
Anger Kills Himself
& other poems

Jim Pascual Agustin
The Man Who Wished
He Was Lego
& other poems

Jessica M. Lockhart
Scylla of the Alabama
& other poems

James P. Leveque
Three Films of Jean Painlevé
& other poems

Kelsey Charles
& other poems

Therese L. Broderick
& other poems

Lane Falcon
& other poems

Ricky Ray
The Bird
& other poems

Phoebe Reeves
Every Petal
& other poems

David Livingstone Fore
Eternity is a very long time...
& other poems

Tim Hawkins
Northern Idyll
& other poems

Abigail F. Taylor
On the Pillow Where You Lie
& other poems

Joey DeSantis
Baby Names
& other poems

Cameron Price
Every Morning
& other poems

David Walker
Sestina for Housesitting
& other poems

Helen R. Peterson
& other poems

J. K. Kitchen

Anger Kills Himself

I wanted to nap one afternoon.

Another row next door, I thought,

though the sound was so regular

when you woke me to listen.

We heard one long scream

followed by one long pause,

then another scream, same pitch,

and another pause, same length.

By the time I got up,

you had already crossed the alley

to find the cry and your neighbor,

cord circling his neck,

hanging on a branch of Dutch Elm,

the most beautiful tree for blocks.

His wife was still keeping the time

of stare, scream and head in hands

when the ambulance came.

That was ages ago.

But last night I heard them again,

only he was the one screaming,

and it was constant until all air left him.

Out of the sudden quiet her whisper told me

she should have combed her hair;

then he wouldn’t have gotten so mad.

Late in the morning

the lady from the dry-cleaners returned my call,

said my shirt’s pattern of crimson flowers

was already faded when I dropped it off.

I hung up and walked the seven blocks

to call her a liar. Enveloped in my yelling,

her thin cheeks had the clear sheen

of a crimped garment bag

when she lost her breath.

Then I myself could hardly breathe.

Our end will come in a picture-perfect, strutting blast of rage.

A postcard you sent from France years ago

still hangs on the fridge.

Most days I hardly notice it:

a burly man carved on a capital

in the choir of Notre-Dame-du-Port.

Crouching demons drape his shoulders,

their scaly arms choke his swelling biceps.

His whole body is smooth.

With thick long legs and a wide muscular torso,

only his soul would be light enough

to hurl into hell. His deep mouth gulps air.

His eyes are stretched. Above them,

two full waves of hair move in a stone flow

past his blown cheeks. His long sword,

its hilt gripped with both hands,

rises straight from the waist,

edges between hard breasts,

then points to his throat—

all power about to be spent.

To me he looks about as Romanesque

as a dimpled lifeguard:

athletic, handsome, mythical;

a kind of Saint George who could

slay Satan’s minions, or die trying.

Such chiseled vice might pass for virtue.

Perhaps the medieval sculptor gave

this Anger too flattering a personification.

I imagine someone must have noticed

the Sin’s lovely allure in proud relief—

a cleric once robbed of church plate

or a respected widow raped in youth;

someone who had suffered a knight’s rage

or a husband’s fist, who would have known

that such crafted beauty, so hard to resist,

demanded a deadly caption to warn us of stabbing fury,

how ruin follows the one unleashing it.

So at the top there is this: Ira se occidit.

Daydreams of California and a Phone Call


When February’s snow thickens and clumps,

the Berkeley Marina

is where tugging nostalgia

takes me to see kites,

some the size of giant centipedes,

others the shape of pre-historic birds;

their faces are totems and their flyers

take the name, sometimes even appearance,

of each floating animal, “the flag of a clan.”

In fact

the little round clouds here

remind me of Durkheim’s baldness,

the way it balloons over the blue border

on the cover of Elementary Forms.

I imagine him, with his glasses

pointed gently downward,

as a French rabbi

on an armchair that hangs in the sky.

A cloud among clouds

he observes and at last shares in

the rest of a nebulous Sabbath.

To the lighthearted sociologist

kites might resemble

impaired churingas

in slow and fluttered motion.

And in those parts of the air

where faces of reptiles

hover neck and neck

the wind makes quiet sounds

of slurred and whistled breaths.

The kited Marina,

imagined from the distance of a far-away winter,

is the measure of my dreams.


And my brother is always there

at the hollowed-out bottom

of a hill, his deck shoes

planted before the tide’s sandy arc.

His line stretches the highest.

It is attached to the sun.

The light he tethers

gives each saurian form

its airy iridescence.

Strands of his thick fire-and-ash hair

rise and fall with the gusts.

He needs me to take hold of the orange reel,

to free his fingers from the strain of the twine.

And I want to. And I do.

He feels for changes

in the breeze

as he walks and smokes.

I tug at the gentle glare.

Glancing back I see

his body blending into the bay,

his shirt filling with a squall,

his steps going

closer to the docks,

away from the knoll.

Gaunt and miniature

in the distance he waves to me.

His cupped and damaged hand,

afloat in the cigarette’s fog,

points to a striped spinnaker

about to fly off the bow of a puffed yawl.

When we get home

we’ll ask Mom

for cookies and cognac.


Beneath the kitchen lamp, eyes closed again,

I see that beautiful black roundness of a seal’s head.

It glistens and bobs, as the weaving streams

of the kites’ blissful tails twist beside the water.

My eyes open. Back in white Edmonton

I am still handling garlic, mayonnaise and oil

mixed in a mustard jar, with the lie of a shaky simile

riveting me to the wintery place I’m desperate to leave:

no matter what, scattered walnuts won’t ever

settle on top of lettuce like boats anchored in seaweed.

Conflated memories make better dreams.

My garlic, the milky package reads, comes from Gilroy,

that spot I visited once as a boy craving to smell what was raw.

Again to the shore of home I drift. The webbed feet

of a white albatross grip the top of a bulb-shaped buoy.

My eyes stay shut until the buzz of a phone.


Mother is calling to say I have jury duty

in Martinez: yet another oil town,

wet and windy and oceanless.

On the edge of a strait that looks

as hard as a shellacked box,

this county seat of Contra Costa

toils under the hot glint of refinery tanks.

The moiling waterway of Martinez

is as much a coffin to me

as the grim river that halves the city of Edmonton,

where the air dries out once the flow freezes.


The Californian official who sent home the letter

of my summons refuses to accept

her argument that my living in Canada

exempts me from judging those of my native land.

I tried to explain to the man . . . .

This praying mother’s protests rarely matter

by the time the special intentions of her lost ones

have inched their way along her rosary’s shivering beads.

Sorrowful mysteries, they can no longer plead for themselves.

Sleepless unto death, they are sentenced to the hard time

of eyes and testimony they can hardly close.


Changing the subject, she asked me

if I remembered (hell-bent-on-discipline)

Sister Monserat, my fifth-grade teacher.

She left her order years ago, distraught,

I was told, and then moved to a neighborhood

where hanging flowerpots line the streets,

somewhere—Mom forgot exactly—on the Marin side of the bridge.

Apparently, she had a pretty place.

From her view she could see sailboats

in their berths and windsurfers near the cove

where Donny, my brother, went to sleep

on water. Like a kite let go of,

he floated away on the same fogless morning

her usual fast-paced walk across the Gate

was cut short.

For all we know the former nun

closed her eyes before the parting splash,

rose numb to the surface of a green swell,

blew out from her belly his pieces of swallowed ash

then rolled her wailing body back into the sea.

Originally from California, J. K. Kitchen is Associate Professor of Medieval History at the University of Alberta (Canada).

Dotted Line