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Pentimento by KATHLEEN HELLEN   Find us in the disappearing    Find light    The smoke contoured with slightest orange    The iron-sun hunched against the picked fish of sky   A city quits its dues     Michigan’s condition of employment    Alabama’s Idaho’s and Iowa’s    Louisiana’s   How will beef in Kansas manage Plants in Alabama    Tennessee    The Carolinas […]

Three by Kathleen Hellen

by POET'S BASEMENT

Pentimento

by KATHLEEN HELLEN

 

Find us in the disappearing    Find

light    The smoke contoured with slightest

orange    The iron-sun hunched

against the picked fish of sky

 

A city quits its dues     Michigan’s

condition of employment    Alabama’s

Idaho’s and Iowa’s    Louisiana’s

 

How will beef in Kansas manage

Plants in Alabama    Tennessee    The Carolinas

Paper mills in Georgia    Petroleum in Utah

 

How will captains right the worth of work

in Mississippi    Nebraska

scale back to nothing    Taft-Hartley hardly

thrift of unions

 

Find forms impaled by trees    The leaves

of grass shifting     Find the eye of need

The hands to work    The practices of feet

 

Sketch the last straws of the wind

Absent craft

 

 

MiG Fighters Bumped My Story Off Page One

by KATHLEEN HELLEN

 

How to be objective when the verdict isn’t grand? I cover juries. The shackled in their savage-orange jumpsuits. I type two-fingered feeds

 

on the romance of the priest. The back door of the rectory. The inner reaches. I swear that gloating, bloated swami in the compound sleeps with secrets in the sheets.

Fact or fiction? it depends

 

on Tall Boys in a dim-lit bar with whistle-blowers. “Too bad about your story getting bumped,” he says, leaning in, the way a man leans in who wants to know your body. We talk of sex. Tielard de Chardin. HIV on River Street. Habits on knees like praying.

 

I cover shots of Ouzo. An aperitif. The lethe of copper stills to still the memory. The asshole of the city like a taste.

 

 

About SRO 

by KATHLEEN HELLEN

 

You hate the politics of Monday night

Salsa night   Tight geographies of Spanish guys

pointing on a dance floor lit with

glances   It’s

 

what you never see that disappoints

what you know

 

the words to songs you sync but

he won’t try his limbs against

the real sangria   Tequila shots

 

This one: He can’t dance   He can’t make up for

whiteness   so he says

go ahead    dance

 

with any dude you want to   any

Latin lover but

 

that’s how problems start

walls get built   prisons

that’s how worlds get blown apart

in nosefuls

 

Kathleen Hellen is a poet and the author of Umberto’s Night (Washington Writers Publishing House, 2012) and The Girl Who Loved Mothra (Finishing Line Press, 2010). Her poems are widely published and have appeared in American Letters & Commentary; Barrow Street; Cimarron Review; Nimrod; Poetry Northwest; Prairie Schooner; Stand; Sycamore Review; Witness; among others; and were featured on WYPR’s The Signal.

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