Two Poems

By: Kathleen Hellen



gaps where the sky burned orange.

messages on license plates
the zeroes adding up

what was calling
my bag a blackwheeled Catherine
a battered grudging goround

I talked in metaphors
“at the brink”
“dashing into rocks”
“dragging bottom”

I left the crescents of his toenails
in the sheets, the irises I’d planted at the farm
surrounding disregard

I asked directions
the heron with its bill in the drink
the egret roosting buddhalike
Flight, yes, the eagle

My tongue was pinkplumpshrimp
The taste salt

They always love you more because you’re dying



in wild behavior

In fires that descend
like stars in orange glow—as far as I can see

igniting foam and fabric, the plastic bones and husks
the cars abandoned—

red revenge in smoke, in grey that settles fog over the Arco
the sulfur vinegar that floats through canopy

I dance the iterations of the monks who stand
the firebrand
of ponderosas yellow but intact

I mimic winding things—over, under—eight steps, each
a drum…a leap, all creation at my feet like an ignition

the safest place to be is in the embers


Kathleen.Hellen_Sidereal (1)

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. She has won grants from the Maryland State Arts Council and the Baltimore Office of Promotion & the Arts. Hellen’s poems have 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