Kelli Allen


Resolutions are horses corralled too long


How many stories
does a culture audition
before coal weds the wall?

Salmon eggs last only
four days in warming water.
Bears have sovereignty in times
when ancestors are sent quietly
into exile. This is courtship

under and above lily pads, greater
than any condition. In the presence
of a maiden’s rice smile, no lizard
leaps directly into blue flames. Grief

between an aging king and his queen
means covetousness quakes and screams
slacked-jawed from nest to burrow.
Dusk-time is never the same for ravens

and hares. Gentleness will not come.
Eventually, anything loved is going to drown.


After an Ocean declares you a love poet: a response


Attacking St. Paul means we deform the psyche backward.
Letting the Gnostics live gives permission to play songs
with spongy lips wrapping brass in a thick “O.” Your mouth
pressed long into the center, dragging fingers close to meet
some rhythm determined before I agreed to this taking,
is a contract between the wren of my throat and the open lily

drowning other lovers in a tangle toward pond’s bottom silt.
Even old church doors pile one atop the other to greet fire sending
orange smoke upward. Gods limp after collecting teeth all afternoon
in the dreams you won’t mention past dark. What in you remains
despicable? The bare metal is rough to the breast, but this does not matter.

You are mounted anyway and do not need rope from my stern to moor
vessel or sail against such necessary wind. Even so, it is not four am
and what is left of your assumptions maps twin islands over my thighs. It’s true
that we sweat through October. Remember, origami swans bend their tails east.



Kelli Allen

Kelli Allen’s work has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies in the US and internationally. She is Poetry Editor for The Lindenwood Reviewand she directs River Styx’s Hungry Young Poets Series. 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.