Two Poems

By Kelli Allen

The verdict is honey for tea, a typewriter under your wrist

There are only two ways to look at a face: once
while we live, then the after. If I am translating
theft from Mandarin late into night, we can only guess
what language might occupy morning. This is story

time—exact syllables, masculine vowels. Let us appreciate
what we are not afraid to name. Not every farmer
from Minnesota walks through myth, ignoring the way
under, no beginning. Antelopes are worth the attention

they receive in these lines. Suddenly their names are beautiful
in your mouth. This, too, is not about endings. Marginally ruined,
we become ourselves. The tongue slips out, half breathed, half
clutching a wolverine’s thin tail. This body is severe, a modern passage

backward turned and looking ever for the egg in belly in hare
in oak in bound bookish things we sniff to sigh into bedtime.
I could remind you that the shark in distress, wide mouth caught
and bloody, siphons what is left of this empathy, but not anything
of this shot April desire, a horny wild boar run too close to riptide.

* * *

I say I love you, but he hears surgical fart, and together we name a warship from afar

We could mention absurdity when we speak about the path of blame.
Remember Abu Sayed hid at the wellspring source and peeked around
stone edges until the burning bushes all flickered out. Shouting
spaghetti festoon does not lesson sentiment sniffed-out, pushed hard under.

It’s an honor being visible in a guilt circle. Even two-hundred
men cannot force a tax from such plumage in the square. So,
when I paused in March, sandy shoulder blades sharp under
his wide palm, what was meant disappeared in the shipyard.

The lover is a poor devil thirsty before the sun ever sets, weapons
drawn or kept ear-swallowed and metal raw. It’s like this: the blood
running under the tent flap is often just one more goat misheard
and chewing too long. We are willing to name what we want to hear.

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Kelli Allen

Kelli Allen / About Author

Kelli Allen’s latest book is Imagine Not Drowning (C&R Press, 2017). Allen’s work has appeared in numerous journals in the US and internationally. She served as Managing Editor of Natural Bridge, is the Poetry Editor for The Lindenwood Review, and directs River Styx’s Hungry Young Poets Series. She is a Professor of Humanities/Creative Writing at Lindenwood University. Her chapbook, Some Animals, won the 2016 Etchings Press Prize. Her chapbook, How We Disappear, won the 2016 Damfino Press chapbook award. Her poetry collection, Otherwise, Soft White Ash, arrived from John Gosslee Books in 2012 and was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. http://www.crpress.org/shop/imagine-not-drowning/

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