How To Keep Warm in Winter



I never planned to be one of those women

Until later in life. In my grandfather’s guest room,

I papered over his window and waited. Thank you

For frosting the glass pane as if with sweet soap.

A seeded flower with a scent like sad radio news

Running up the stem, a bag of pistachios where nothing grows.

I know you’re over-worked and under-paid,

Your labor history is available at the local library.

Every now and then a criminal heat, a hunger,

A courtship with silence, a corporation

Lugging guilt around like a thousand books.

I mailed them the sound of a feather

I thought was snow. If I only have one kid,

I’m all out of chances. I hold a sponge in my right hand

And soap in my left. I go to sleep in the shower

After I rinse off the mushroom caps.

I watch the world’s largest bus drive around

On top of the ice. The driver is rinsed in faith.

The ice, he says, is a mad blue expanse. It drinks the sun

In long thirsty pulls, like lemonade in the summer.

I want someone to take me out behind the glacier

And put their ear against the ice.

When naked can still be useful,

To listen to the sound of ruin. I turn my cheek, sly.

This is our song, they’ll say, fingering me.

The ice will melt behind our backs

Until the glacier swallows us in longing.

The snow will be a furious cloud

And I’ll pull up the hood of my clit against the cold.

Matinee (The Projectionist)



The daytime was an old place

In which nobody wished to live.

It might have died happy, only it didn’t.

My skin care routine contributed to the time lost.

I am luminous enough in limelight to require blinds.

I change the batteries twice and then dim the lights.

The projector smells like two right hand gloves

Left too long against the dryer.

Air bells have left large dark circles on the negatives.

You say, we’ve already made the film,

Projectionist, play the reel again!

So, I play the movie with subtitles,

Then a second time, with dogs barking,

Children laughing, brides moaning,

Jackdaws mimicking, water burning,

Dubbed over the original dialogue. At best,

There remains a rumor of plot.

Here the dialogue breaks

Like twigs of fine soft ash. It’s clear

We’ve mistaken one voice for another,

And now we must lie down between

The word and the thing

Without even a parenthesis to protect us.

Kelly Caldwell‘s writing and art has appeared or is forthcoming in Fence, Denver Quarterly, The Mississippi Review, Phoebe, Quiddity, Seneca Review, MAKE Magazine, Slant, Pacific Standard Magazine, The Rumpus, Guernica, and VICE, among others. She is the winner of an Academy of American Poets University Prize and the 2019 Greg Grummer Prize, judged by Jos Charles. She works and writes at Washington University in St. Louis. She is the Co-Editor-in-Chief of The Spectacle.