Four Poems


I hear your voice. It circles scarlet leaves
that scatter on the back of midland farms.
You hum through unexpected nights where eaves
of sparrow-songs are dandled in cool arms
and fold like the ascendancy of dusk
across the day. You wander over stars
bringing a tune of tuberose and musk
beneath my sill, then curl between the bars
of my wrought-soul, where everything is rocked
by savage lullabies that wake remorse.
I lose your voice. Andromeda has locked
it in a cage of stars, there is no force
that can release it from her mottled gleam, 
left for another springtime to redeem.

A Beating Wing

Had you but sacrificed one lilac 
from an unpruned tree, or smoothed the knotted
curls from my face with your bedraggled hand;
had you but crushed a leaf of lavender
and poured a thimble full of balm into my mouth,
like some elixir 
from an ancient land; or sprinkled down 
the clumsiest of sighs into my hands. 
Had you but arched your eyebrow 
like a dying willow branch 
across a muddy pond—in one last shade-song 
to the minnow near the rocks,
or slipped through untamed gardens
in the august heat, a breath-depriving feat, 
without a single rest upon a bluebell rim.
Had you but wrapped your head in orchids,
sung to troubled sky larks without chanting 
curses at the bougainvillaea thorns—
I would not had to write this verse.
This poem, cobbled up from twisted twigs, 
that scrapes the feathered whispers
of my throat. This moulted, metered thing,
that taps inside me like a suffocating wing.
I would not have to listen
to these syllables that parrot out my days
and flap their somberness against 
a rib cage of had yous.


You stand erect in that old photograph,
a sago palm bends sated with the breeze
and Hotel Del, her rooftops peaked in red,
is clad in white behind a row of trees.
This is the way is see you, still. Your eyes
with lash-rimmed corners that turn slightly down,
your fine jaw line, which I envision through
a weave of yesteryear’s—a floating crown
of daisy thoughts, both frail and light. A vine
that burgeons tendril memories of you
on summer soil, where darkness never yields
a single bud releasing an adieu.

A Winter's Day 

Another wintry day has come to close. 
Across the fields and valleys it resigns, 
With daylight’s last rays falling in repose 
Between the spreading sycamores and pines. 
Tonight I do not rest; I count each star 
Above me, as they light up, by and by, 
Like fireflies left inside the sparkling jar 
That is this evening’s cold majestic sky. 
Eventually I shift my thoughts and see 
The rooflines of the village down below, 
And, scattered here and there, a lonely tree 
Is waiting patiently for falling snow. 
I ponder what the new year holds for me, 
And hope the heavens don‘t think me remiss– 
If I should pray my future years may be 
As perfect as a day and night like this.

About Karen Kelsay

Karen Kelsay is a native Californian, who grew up along the Pacific—that should explain her love for writing poetry about the sea. She attended college in Anchorage, Alaska, where she studied art and history, and then devoted much time to traveling, for leisure and the sake of gathering impressions for writing poetry. She has many favorite poets, although her poetry has not been influenced by anyone in particular, she leans toward traditional forms. Karen is a three-time Pushcart Prize nominee, and has written five chapbooks: A Fist of Roots (Pudding House Press 2009), Somewhere Near Evesham (The New Formalist Press 2009), Song of the Bluebell Fairy (Pudding House Press 2010), In Spite of Her (Flutter Press 2010), Buttercup Garden (Victorian Violet Press 2010). Her newest book: Dove on a Church Bench, is due to be published April 2011 by Punkin House Press.