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New Poetry from Gillian Kessler

By Gillian Kessler:

Flapper Press is proud to publish original poetry from our writers and readers. This month we present two more poems from teacher/poet, Gillian Kessler.

I Am No Longer Afraid of Open Space

I carry the dog up the steps, bones.

When is it long enough

to have lived long enough?

Years taste like cinnamon and honey,

warm milk. Remember?

You reminded me that sometimes, it’s cruel

to keep things alive. One girl says:

Isn’t it more cruel to kill her and

isn’t that just the question of the day.

I want to be with her when she dies, she says.

I see her at her grandfather’s bedside.

His feet were hardened kelp beds, toenails golden swords

reaching for sun. I was there too.

I felt the air lift and soften

and when we finally drove home,

a cliché rainbow rose above the hearse and

we traveled side by side.

Your death smelled of cut grass,

closing garages.



It’s been suddenly so many years.

You’ve died so many times.

I used to run the overpass.

Stare down between chain-link,

sky smudged blue, cars scintillate,

perpetual. Still succulents grew. Still,

I was looking for you.

You sang of spinning and I smelled your

smoke and shampoo and the soft of your

skin. There is so much that continues

to drift in and out. That payphone in Berkeley?

You were there so fast.

My tributary of bad choices

strewn along the coastline.

Remember the smell of garlic in Gilroy?

All that irrigated earth, so odd and lonely,

so out of the blue?

That’s how you come to me now.


Trees and Light

I want to do to you

what water does to earth

up high here in these

mountains, yellowing aspens

lucent, moonlit, long mustaches of

larch like the unconventional spirits of

ancestors, their migrations and

commitment to new burrows,

hyperbolic landscapes.

I am flower and bird,

ashen pebbles and remnants of spruce

and cedar. I am this slight

and soft wind on a bare

shoulder, the shrill sound of a small

girl, her knees high step in a skip

on the sunlit path,

bare feet calloused and

sure on this forest floor.


Gillian Kessler is a poet, teacher, and a regular writer for Flapper Press. Her first published book of poems, Lemons and Cement, is available for purchase.

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Unknown member
Dec 22, 2019

Both poems are fabulous. One is harsh, poignant and a mystery, two is quite sweet.

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