Kelli Allen has served as Poetry Editor for The Lindenwood Review and she directs River Styx’s Hungry Young Poets Series. Allen teaches in the MFA program at Lindenwood University. Her work has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies in the US and internationally
Her chapbook, Some Animals, won the 2016 Etchings Press Prize. Her chapbook, How We Disappear, won the 2016 Damfino Press award. Her full-length poetry collection, Otherwise, Soft White Ash, arrived from John Gosslee Books (2012) and was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. Her latest collection, Imagine Not Drowning, was released by C&R Press in January 2017.
Galloping toward the harbor, crown in our pocket
When roots are horses, nothing seeds to fruition.
It is this way with us, too. We pass tasting booths
in Madrid and on the way down, pocket notes
meant for after curtains blunt wide. We leave applesauce
under the bedroom window in exchange for crow
feathers small enough to pick teeth white on purpose.
A landscape boxed is still one doe curled into her buck
and no chorus or apology proves this wrong. Smuggle
the dead into the theatre, wait for the third ovation—
the full moon does not always mean wolf.
Maybe you’ve seen them—the two knots left
on the wrist. Once, we were convinced venom
could be drawn from muscle to tongue to ground. Maybe
you remember the surface red, weeping, your hand
a paw too large against the satin. This is not a story
about impotent death. We have habits and photographs,
sometimes scars, for such embarrassment. I might hum
the notes of how we arrived, in which old boat, backs stiff,
becoming pine, too. Every sail is an eager geometry near wind.
In this murmuration, starlings build parapets from rising jungle
mist and somewhere in the noise, an invitation will fall
into your lap. You will gesture, break every conversation,
tiny bones pillaring beneath first one elbow and then the next
until the throne is cast for you to fall back and fall soft. Look
at the just-closing mouth, the proof slated for a ledger dug-up
and dusted with beetle carcasses meant for next week’s rain.
What will we do with such a king and how will we welcome
you, robes so fresh, a pulse through the moss, into this body?