Kelly Grace Thomas is the winner of the 2017 Neil Postman Award for Metaphor
from Rattle, a 2018 finalist for the Rita Dove Poetry Award, a two-time Pushcart
Prize nominee and a Best of the Next nominee. BoatBurned, her first full-length
collection, is forthcoming from YesYes Books in 2019. Kelly's poems have appeared
or are forthcoming in: DIAGRAM, Tinderbox, Diode, Nashville Review, Sixth Finch,
Muzzle and more. Kelly currently works to bring poetry to underserved youth as the
Manager of Education and Pedagogy for Get Lit-Words Ignite. She is also the co-
author of Words Ignite: Explore, Write and Perform, Classic and Spoken Word
(Literary Riot). She is currently a reader for Tinderbox Poetry Journal and
is also a screenwriter and novelist. Kelly lives in the Bay Area (USA) with her

How to Storm
Ending with a Line by Jeremy Radin

Learn to rage. To rain so strong the oil of a lover rises to the asphalt. Become a cousin to freeway accidents and windshield wipers. Become a hurricane when you almost lose your mother. When she has more tubes than veins. When she wails naked in the hospital shower as you wash her. As you pray for one more night soaping her frightened chest.

Remember the first time you became a category five. Think how pressure drops at seven-years-olds. Think of childhood baths. Of how your sister would never let you be the mermaid. Become a tornado of all the things you have spent. Hold up a pretty dress up. Wild credit card receipts are blooming in the fields. Conjure monsoon at your unpublished tender.

Listen to your downpour, like fists knocking on an empty schoolhouse. Like the rattling of windows in classrooms without heat. Scribble, scribble little earthquake, before your energy becomes someone else’s I-knew-I'd-get-here. Don't let overcast kill you.

Go fist to fist with El Nino. Tell him, I am the thing you didn't see coming. Say, just wait. Next year, I swear, each and every newscasters will be calling my name. Oh yes. Say I can storm too.


He took me in tiny bites
of bedroom. He was always there.
Fed until I grew sick. My stomach

He doesn't need a face.
Or name.

I give back garden
of blood, bone. The book
that named me. He licks his lips
as he watches. I don't believe in sin

or the many men. Liberty is sick
of being someone's woman.

Every night I take apart my breasts.
Clean my weapons. Cross them.

I sleep alone. Take my body.
But leave me words. Grieved
through grammar lust. Hollow
enough to fit inside a pretty
mouth. Targeted and tender.

I spelled my name with this war.
Carried this body. Targeted

and tender. Woman
wear your blood
on the outside.

I'll Never Return

Omid tells me
I hold my breath.

But when I exhale
home falls

from my mouth. The floor-
boards spill from my lungs.

My skin a map of looking
back. I swallow every place

I cannot keep. Always
fear I'll never return.

The reason they call
division long.

My breath tightens with footsteps
Even now I can't

remember the house of him.
God or father. Still I beg

for shelter. Don't mistake
persistence for roots.

My father was
a carpenter too.

I am

to found.


I know every way
I shouldn't be woman
Hands bloodied
from smile

A ritual: count the parts
of me
still talking
I don't write
about the wine
Instead broken stems
dying flowers
eggshelled walls
thinned to fist

Today I felt like choking
anything I could
wrap my hands around

Instead I bought a dress
to make a man
love me

Now one does
It doesn't fit

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