Kathleen Hellen


the limbless in the
curtained cots of
shivered blisterspit. So
many in the chalkline, so
many in detention, you want to
build a house for them. A heaven for
their tents. A made-for-hope of
numbness as
the tactic you have mastered as
the happy ending—it’s only
human feeling you control in
nightly buttons: that
red one—remote

as in background tasks when screens go black

while I idle

there’s a mushroom
a diety toadstooling

between the sillpan and the slab
between the subfloor and the threshold

a navel
sprouting worldsinsideofworlds

a trickster
pretending to be oyster

a fairy in the dome
sponging off the glut
surviving in the storm and drought

the only way out

no reflection

Wolves talk. A thousand rats
I wear the dividend of bats, opening to night’s
cold occupation. The tillandtamp
of every penny nickeled, every dime a habit
the math
the master-slave exactly

no allowance in
copper, obsidian
mercury’s amalgam
the master plan
far worse than being dead

I pay the ferry
poppy seeds and sand
the poorpuny flies to which we are attracted

Kathleen Hellen is the author of The Only Country was the Color of My Skin (2018), the award-winning collection Umberto’s Night, and two chapbooks, The Girl Who Loved Mothra and Pentimento. Nominated for the Pushcart and Best of the Net, and featured on Poetry Daily, her poems have been awarded the Thomas Merton poetry prize and prizes from the H.O.W. Journal and Washington Square Review, and appeared in American Letters and Commentary, Barrow Street, The Massachusetts Review, New Letters, North American Review, Poetry East, Prairie Schooner, Salamander, Seattle Review, the Sewanee Review, Southern Poetry Review, Spoon River Poetry Review, Witness, and elsewhere. For more on Kathleen visit kathleenhellen.com.

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About Posit Editor

Susan Lewis (susanlewis.net) is the Editor-in-chief and founder of Posit (positjournal.com) and the author of ten books and chapbooks, including Zoom (winner of the Washington Prize), Heisenberg's Salon, This Visit, and State of the Union. Her poetry has appeared in anthologies such as Walkers in the City (Rain Taxi), They Said (Black Lawrence Press), and Resist Much, Obey Little (Dispatches/Spuyten Duyvil), as well as in journals such as Agni, Boston Review, The Brooklyn Rail, Conjunctions online, Diode, Interim, New American Writing, and VOLT.