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3 Poems by Kelly Schirmann

a new mouth.


the girls were swinging their axes

at too many things. they coughed, bared


their shoulders to one another, to the boys

up in the cherry-picker, hacking down limbs.


they parted the dust clouds with their spindlings.

they needed a shelter for their fumblings


they said, calling up into the canopy.

from above the men sent arms down.


they built a window and another window

and a door. outside the girls were faces.


they came inside and stayed the night,

rustling in their soft underthings.


the men and the boys stayed up, racked

cabinets for scraps of hardware. made woods


into walls, smoothed the carved hearts

with a planer. the girls woke up running


pale fingers through their own hair. boy

were they loud. i listened to their whistlings


from the treehouse you built me, high up

on a similar hill. we called out


for similar things: more water,

a new mouth to feed.



not asia, exactly.


the country i’ve constructed for you

is balmy and pale on film.


the woman on the balcony

has a dark heart & small shoulders.


she wears a shift of her own devising

and spreads everything so thin.


the several hundred marks on my face

arrange themselves in messages.


the air is a stupid pastel

you smear yourself into over & over.


the woman on the film

is shaping your dark heart into itself.


from here every different color

is a cause for alarm.


the several hundred messages

make themselves known to me, as mine.


they make a terrible funnel

to pour one of us into the other.


my skin pales and balms

when i have to remember you up-close:


a face of my own devising.

a thin shift in the new weird light.


learned fires.


i left the forest and came to a marketplace.

it was bustling there, like a girl scout


camp, or hive. i had a few things

scattered about, here and there, on a quilt.


mostly they were invisible

findings, and didn’t fetch their value.


the people too, were invisible

to one another. there was a parade


they lost themselves amongst.

later i found out it wasn’t a marketplace


really — more like a showroom.

gigantic women passed me by


peering. whole families broke me apart.

i hunched over my gleanings,


which were only four colors thick

by then. they became unfamiliar to me.


i burned them in my learned fires, waking

to a magic quantifying in my organs.


i felt my feet growing their arches. i felt

like a cough growing smaller inside my mouth.


kelly schirmann  lives it, climbs it, drinks it, wants it, gets it, falls all over it, and gives it away for free in portland oregon.