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Sample Poems by Kelly Lenox

The Fullness

So what do you say when your proud, drip-nosed kid
arranges a loop of leaves and prays

it won’t ever blow away? you know
snapping a photo won’t keep those eyes from tears,

nor will shellac—the whole encased in a hyaline skin
becomes a thing to care about, to bend toward—

and little neighbors will toddle into your yard
each wanting one shiny, butterscotch leaf.

don’t tell them that when beauty speaks
it doesn’t hang around for an answer

don’t tell them about autumn at all,
about luster—the loop by this time

scattered and thinned
by cats and beetles, like any raw plan.

The Marriage House

In the yard of the house that I lived in longer
than I’ve ever lived anywhere, the clay
reached deeper than I could dig.

Excavation is so different from tunneling—
what you dig up is lit by the sun same as everything else.
pale centipedes burrowing in a  flurry of legs.

The spade leaves a slick wall of clay,
all of a piece, worm-halves wriggling out
like Girl scouts from tents on a chill bright morning.

We’d layer compost and leaves,
mix and turn and plant,
but if we didn’t keep at it

that clay would rise back up
and crack in the summer draught.
I always imagined we could slice it,

straight-sided like bricks,
dry them till they were hard enough
to be mortared into something useful.

That yard so small, the best use seemed to be
just to leave that clay where it lay,
impenetrable under everything we planted.


Beyond the window
a garden blooms in full sun— 
fly beating the glass.

Storm Surge
Piran, Slovenia

A ragged, sooty front crosses the noon sun
and in the sudden dusk, boats pitch toward their berths.
From waterfront restaurants, umbrellas take flight.
Gale-whipped to triumphant pitch, waves
explode along the harbor wall,
and I run through the edges of wind and rain,
jagged as the silhouette of the Apennines
just vanished from the western horizon.

But the lightning’s already running further
from its thunder and the storm blows inland.
The breeze is cold now
and you are too far away to warm me.
I walk around the point
and  find on the seawall a sponge, as pale
as my coat, ripped from the underwater rocks.
I let all the live things out of it

except for two tiny green plants, firmly rooted.
It weighs nothing. I bring it home for us,
not thinking they will die along the way.