Fall 2019, Volume 27

Poetry by Kathleen Hellen

Jewels in the Net

More than sunburn on the other
side of glass, his face as black and hardened
as the coal before the diamond. I turn away
from the effects—a pen, melting cheese
that will be hosed off later—as long as he is breathing,
I turn away from failure curled up fetal on the street—failure
when it seems too familiar, shopping at the Dollar Store for
toothpaste, shopping in the aisles that seem like blinders.
I turn toward the exit, where a man is like a statue of himself,
staring at a curb of witnesses like bystanders. I feel like I should speak—
say something meaningful, and therefore, true. He shakes his head.
Nearly every day, he says, and motions with his hand like a mask
to his face, like a whiff of gasoline before the truck rolls out the stretcher.
I hear as in a dream the children wanting toys, whining buy me something.




BIO: Kathleen Hellen is the author of The Only Country was the Color of My Skin, the award-winning collection Umberto’s Night, and two chapbooks, The Girl Who Loved Mothra and Pentimento. Featured on Poetry Daily and Verse Daily, her work has appeared or is forthcoming in American Letters and Commentary, Barrow Street, Cimarron Review, The Massachusetts Review, New Letters, North American Review, Poetry East, and West Branch, among others. Hellen has won the Thomas Merton poetry prize and prizes from the H.O.W. Journal and Washington Square Review. For more on Kathleen visit https://www.kathleenhellen.com/ .