Two Poems by Kelli Allen

If Fairy Tales in Fall
It isn’t so much that the leaves are dizzy as it is they are lodged in confusion,
the same variety that persuades us to jump when the waters are on the rise. We
say, “look” as our feet reappear after tumbling over our shoulders on the way
down, we tremble and spill over. The repair work is universal
as the rake scratches our sides.

I contain so much thinning, yet lushness is my fresco when I stop at the bottom
of the well, climb back into the bucket and yell up “It matters! It matters!” until
only the rope tail hangs near the stone rim. Nothing whorls up in a shock
the way a name does, when its ours, all peacock and hiss, all vowel and cinnamon.

You have been told how to cut back the trestle, to light the lamp and fold your hands.
This way, we are advocates together for a splayed phrase and retelling. The only
stories we can give back are ones considerate of the moss digesting the ledge.

Suspending Delirious Limbs
Although I do not claw at my own chest, I recognize the desire as just that—
desire. It is a recitation of horrors, spoken in close iambic pentameter, which keeps
my hands, rounded fingers points against palms, close to my sides.  I say the cross
-hatched words in monotonous rounds, vowels slow, consonants exhausted,
becoming flat, and so calming.  Her wrists are the knotted tree where the rabbit sits,
eggs in its belly, waiting for Ivan.

Where my mother’s hands would have caught against pearlescent buttons when she
ripped through one blouse or another, trying to free breath, skin, small
cranberry-red streaks of rising flesh, mine stay this still. There are no legs long
enough to reach the branch where I was hatched.

So she has given me a house I am not to touch, its windows smaller than my
earlobes, its faces through the doors colder than expected. We stand on either side
of a roof peppered with mica, the pinks making me ache, the hues making her clutch
her peter-pan collar as I lean too close, too far inward.

There is no act of rebellion in remembering and I am trying not to hate this self
as compared to her self, compared to both selves one on either side of a dollhouse
made whole by attention, careful, careful attention.

About the Poet
Kelli Allen’s work has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies in the US and internationally. She is currently a Professor of Humanities and Creative Writing at Lindenwood University. Allen gives readings and teaches workshops throughout the US. Her full-length poetry collection, Otherwise, Soft White Ash, from John Gosslee Books (2012) was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. See