Kelli Allen

A decapitated moon

The Flood in the Darling, 1890 by W. C. Piguenit

Means twenty-seven caterpillars
will carry the milk jugs home
tonight. One tongue too many
for dancers filing down the pier.

We have heard older stories
about rough tails wrapped into bows
around the mongoose’s narrow thigh.
Ours is a continuation upward, a triplicate
of thrusts, one angry grunt, and everything
new to occupy the kingdom. Appetites

are puncture wounds, too, and no amount
of salt can cure meat past its bone, So,
we swallow as gathered crows, a circle,
near three broken crowns, clipped beaks

already numbered. When the whole town
disappears beneath your river’s silt, where
will these steeples point? Every midwife

knows to keep her apron strings undone.
The smallest hands still reach for ties
that keep safe what we bind to this earth.

 

About the writer:
Kelli Allen’s work has appeared in numerous journals/anthologies in the US and internationally. She is currently a visiting professor of English Literature at Rutgers University/RUNIN, Northeast Normal University in Changchun, China. She is the recipient of the 2018 Magpie Award for Poetry. Her chapbook, Some Animals, won the 2016 Etchings Press Prize. Her chapbook, How We Disappear, won the 2016 Damfino Press award. Her full-length poetry collection, Otherwise, Soft White Ash, arrived from John Gosslee Books (2012) and was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. Her collection, Imagine Not Drowning, was released by C&R Press in January 2017. Allen’s new collection, Banjo’s Inside Coyote, arrived from C&R Press March, 2019.

Image: The Flood in the Darling, 1890 by W.C. Piguenit (1836-1914). Oil on canvas. 122.5 x 199.3 cm. 1895. Public domain.