. . . or Power Lions . . . or Power Loins
These women marching across the
be-skirted, holding up the infrastructure –
Nobody sees them, but they’re
everywhere, wordless, anonymous,
the wasp-waist walkers
Illuminating everyone but
themselves, powering the
entire essence of everything.
They tread on those tiny triangular toes
through every possible topography –
a graveyard, a ghetto, a ghost town,
a winnowed wheat field, a rival windmill farm,
a river, a rail yard, a riprap ditch –
Each one holding tightly to her
section of the circuitry that binds
us all together.
What if no one ever recognizes these
What if they turn loose of that
fragile filament or fall
down in that field?
They will electrify the world the day they
suddenly surge forward
and head steadily into that stunning horizon they eye.
Kelly Walden lives and writes in Paducah, Kentucky, where she was born and ended back up after 21 moves. She is married and has 4 children. Writing is her real love, but she created an ACT Prep business to serve her rural area and put sourdough bread on the table. She also loves cold brownies slathered in cold butter, trees, bubblegum pop and old country, the smell of hot asphalt, and the color periwinkle.
I Looked For Love in the Index of a Book on Black Cinema
and Found Only Lynching
how we entreat familiar bodies.
there are none that exist
but theories of flowers. deer that has come bounding through
my tender screen, ground me. my least favorite proverb
is you can't judge a book by its cover. you can
only do that. the weird bread of another's body,
the greens that are mustard
under scrutiny. to yearn
to not be a book with a wet spot meant to preserve flowers
is to absolve yourself from failure, pridefully.
for instance, i remember the flower
girl herself, my cousin’s wedding, but not the petals
or the stems. for instance, i click back to a video
being shared by strangers. a black girl who won’t listen to a man
is plucked from her desk and thrown by the officer.
light can move through substances that air cannot—
she lands a way i've never seen a white body lie.
a glowing field of phones
records my cousin's wedding though i never go to look.
in the confusion, i see nothing but black girls holding flowers.
Who Is There to Eulogize the Tree
1 a shadow extended long enough becomes just the light
2 you’ve never been tender. (moth wings. tobacco strung up so dry the color of a man). you can't walk to the
car without stopping or your father to water the yard. he stares across it, bending over, thin as a country
that lost half itself to civil war (a cancer sign), the other half to ashes. he plucks every weed as if they were
children—could be woven to a throne. you leave them be. whatever he believes, he believes. your whole
theory of the sky would change if you crossed south of the equator. there, the north star evaporates. like the
killing games children play. who would you murder first if it meant meandering the stars close to home,
keeping them from change? (you can try again against impossibility and put hands to head to roots and
stand, but every little sun is diamond-set into the back of your father's father's land). all that blood played
across the innocence (some vote ignorance) of trees. they say yours are your father's eyes. he says look at
steve, who is army green and bends to the wind like a galaxy. every night sleeping beside him in the ward,
your father never knew your name. your dream is to be terrible (a monster or a worm) and ratchet back
history and only afterward, be good. you are american. you could have told him anything but, of course, you
never did. your name unfurls from is his name like onion skin. you 've never seen your father cry. once,
when his brother died, you think you see it. he waters the snow from where he poured the urn—your
father's brother is a tree—or it's a trick of the light. maybe fireworks.
3 a crow's memory is generational
4 a wilted kite
Keith Wilson is an Affrilachian Poet, Cave Canem fellow, and a graduate of the Callaloo Creative Writing Workshop who received three scholarships from Bread Loaf as well as scholarships from MacDowell, UCross, Millay Colony, and the Vermont Studio Center, among others. I serve as Assistant Poetry Editor at Four Way Review and Digital Media Editor at Obsidian Journal. My first book, Fieldnotes on Ordinary Love, will be published by Copper Canyon in 2019. Wilson's work has appeared or is appearing in the following journals: Poetry, Adroit Journal, Crab Orchard Review, Little A, Narrative, 32 Poems, Rhino, Muzzle, Blueshift Journal, and Vinyl. Additionally, Wilson won a Best of the Net Award, has been anthologized in Best New Poets and was appointed a Gregory Djanikian Scholar. His nonfiction won a Redivider Blurred Genre prize.
Feathers Insulate My Home
My mother would pin flattened birds
to the drywall of our home.
Birds found against the city curbs amid
dry leaves and plastic wrappers.
My mother liked to keep dead things
alive as long as she could.
Careful never to name them in front of me,
she’d arrange the birds above her
sewing machine, heads up and in a row.
The only part of Cinderella I remember
word for word is –Cinderella, hard up
on time and resources, collected all
the dead birds beneath the sills of her
spotless windows, and, using the tine
of a fork and her own hair, sewed
herself a gown of feathers. When it came
time for the ball, she took flight
and never touched earth ever again.
James Allen Thomson currently lives in Central Texas where he is an English lecturer at Texas State University. His poetry has appeared in Poached Hare and Twyckenham Notes and is forthcoming in fields magazine.