Poetry: Selections from Kelli Lage


I threw reckoning into the horizon
and it came back as melted sun.
Slipping from my palms
to the wind bent grass.
Slithering into fields
where you can still taste the dirt
from the farmer’s boots.
It crawls, searching for the heat of my open palms.
Little does this earth know, they are now fists.
They have been clenched for so long
my skin is now the color of forgotten pomegranates.
Clenched because snakes bite and houses rattle.
I run towards midnight,
and embrace it with a force of love
as if it were my grandfather returned to life.
Then, I shed the parts of myself that daylight cannot handle.

A Girl I Knew (Some Version of Past Myself That Cannot be Revived)

A girl I knew still spends her days living in dreams and memories.
She dances with ghosts and plays out a fantasy where everyone stays
and he is okay.
If the real world caught wind, they’d slap her wrists
and turn her meals gray.
When she looks too close into the window of this earth,
she wonders if the ghost of who she was haunts his memories too. What if we meshed worlds? Would our hauntings destroy each other?
Would they both freeze in place under a coat of ice,
realizing, memory and fantasy have become one and the same?
She slips that thought into her bedside stand. Maybe someday the winter will come,
but today, she’s a teenager driving down that gravel road
with the wind blowing through her curls.
Her music louder than the pounding that tried to wake her.

Her Portrait

Her portrait in the attic was framed by ghosts
that have long escaped the graveyard.
Rather than worship her,
they use her as a warning sign.
If you wake haunted pasts,
you have to live with them.
Their beds are thorns and their edges are messy.
Their teeth bite into your veins
when you’d rather be eating your birthday cake.
A warning, because ghosts tire of playing the game of past lives.
Let your hauntings be buried,
so your portrait is not hung next to hers.

Painting of a Sunset

Painting of a sunset / lavender stains mixed with the blush of my cheeks / they admire the strokes / I take note of veiny hands / above a fine tip brush / you held days on your fingertips / strumming echoes through the hallways / to songs I could never sing / waiting / for years / burnt before I even licked the fire / orange neon sign / sharp shades of whiskey / stumbling drunkards / better made for alleyways / I thought I’d reached heaven / but it was just hell inside a ragged basement / stung by a bee / you’d recognize the blood / whittling away at bed posts with my teeth / I stayed for the finale  / why can I only see a painting of a sunset?

Kelli Lage lives in the Midwest countryside. She is currently earning her degree in Secondary English Education and works as a substitute teacher. Awards include: Special Award for First-time Entrant, 2020, Iowa Poetry Association.


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