Fall 2020, Volume 29

Poetry by Kirstin Allio 


No idea
where my water
comes from.


Doesn’t match
any salt
from dog
stars, dead
planets, samples


of heat


generated in lovemaking.
Always night
on the Internet,
no cast
shadow, I
see myself as a caldera,
a depression left
by an old flame.


I’ve seen the sun
shine off the moon
like a mirror
and I’ll never see
night as gigabytes
of stars again,
I’ll never use night
as a neologism.
No. Night,
you’re a faker,
a hawker
of cut-rate


Then again,
after a night of rain
laps the edges:


Dates with wrinkled
shoulders, pits
like alien
a navel orange
spins a shadow,


a dusky record
of my changes,
worn true.



I walk in the cemetery with a friend too,
about our teenagers

and ourselves at that age, facial media
and sugar—they’re like creampuffs.

Were we dense?
We brace the air to laugh.

We met at a fountain
in 2001, her wedding baby

under a napkin,
mine a lampshade

of velvet, I was made of sand.    
On the 14th floor, the death

lawyer rose with his back to the bridge,
clutching himself

to show how the word
testament originated,

before bibles,
on the family jewels. Women,

naturally, had no word.
I don’t remember being enervated

by communication before the Internet.
My first email address,

in 1994 or ‘95, only worked
at its university of origin,

so what was the point?
I must have done most of my communicating on foot.

I rented a room in a fire
trap. My landlady

dictated the terms
of use for the single,

corded phone.
I moved in over Yom Kippur,

her husband a candle,
her younger son in Germany,

his brother, older by twenty years,
just out of jail,

slept in the hall,
crosswise to my bedroom

door. I was not afraid
the way I’d be now,

cut off from my gifts,
having suffered the blunting
of the senses as tools.




BIO: Kirstin Allio's recent publications include poems in Bat City Review, Poetry Northwest, Conjunctions, Prairie Schooner, Fence, Bennington Review, Subtropics, Guesthouse, North American Review, Southwest Review, Sixth Finch, Alaska Quarterly Review, Tupelo Quarterly, Fugue, and Hotel Amerika.

Essays are out in Tin House, The Southern Review, Seneca Review,The Paris Review Daily, and elsewhere; and stories in New England Review, Guernica, Joyland, The Common, and forthcoming in AGNI, New Delta Review, and The Laurel Review. “Time of the Testudinidae” won the 2019 American Short(er) Fiction Prize from American Short Fiction, chosen by Danielle Dutton. 

Books: Garner (Coffee House Press), was a finalist for the LA Times Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction. Clothed, Female Figure won Dzanc’s Short Story Collection Prize and was published in 2016. Buddhism for Western Children was the inaugural novel in The Iowa Review Series, a new imprint from University of Iowa Press, out in 2018.

Other honors include the National Book Foundation’s 5 Under 35 Award, a PEN/O. Henry Prize, and fellowships from Brown University’s Howard Foundation and the Colony.