Kristene Kaye Brown is a mental health social worker. She earned her MFA from
Vermont College of Fine Arts. Her work has previously been published, or is
forthcoming, in Diagram, Columbia Poetry Review, Harpur Palate, Meridian,
Nashville Review, and others. Kristene lives and works in Kansas City (USA).

In The Lobby Of The Midwest Cancer Care Center I Read Science Daily And Think

Wouldn't it be nice to go back to a time
when no one believed

earth would end—cosmic freeze, solar collapse—
however it goes.

The receptionist fans herself with yesterday's news,
while I tell a plastic fern plant

all about my tumors.
A fern is a symbol of sincerity, though this one

is not real. Nothing ever means nothing.
What does it even mean to be

real anyway? A woman licks her thumb and flips
the page of a magazine.

Someone coughs. And, as always,
earth continues to glide on it's egg shaped axis.

I wait for some unseen
nurse to call my name. From the outside I look

healthy enough. Deceiving,
like how a rearview mirror distorts the sky

so that it appears further away. I should marvel
at this moment,

at this temporary now wedged between two swells
of dark. Instead, I'm transfixed

by a small marooned fly, a simple soft-watt hiss
dimming out against the window pane.


Palmy cloud.Vapor
of lung.Smoky fist.
It starts
as a cancellation
that contains
and erases.
Opal condensation.
A scattering of little moons
undoing the doing,
the dead-end
of limb
and wing
like a milky gown
unfurled in a polyp yawn.
Imbued blue.
Where did you come from
boneless blur
of pearlpocked sky?
White riot,
like a thin gauze of snow
laid quietly at night.
First a spilled pitcher
of foggedbreath,
then that malignant ruffle,
that static hiss. Bright.

Yard Work With Survivors Guilt

Night is bigger than us all.
Somewhere a fire burns.

a dark scroll of crows blisters
against the sky
like smoke. The day swells.

To remain un-haunted
is to know nothing
deserves to be loved

as much as fear.
Small pleasures on a Sunday.
What a thrill to get lost

in domestic responsibility.
To not think
about that failure of light

pooling at the spine.
To not remember
how scalpel and machine

can hum a body
empty. I move beneath
a soft-spoken sky,

tendrils of wind submitting
to trees. Morning puzzled
back together by light.

Like love, these hours
are everywhere
all at once, fragile

and massive. Still,
there are bills to be paid
and grass to be cut.

I've put my trust in the dirt,
trafficking sorrow
to a safer place.

This is loyalty and its coming
consequence, trees filled
with nesting hands.

I only wanted to see
the green-throated tulips rise
again. They aren't brave,

like me, just simply alive.


Another morning
slid from the unsnapped
pill box, turned

and emptied, orange

bottles gloating
in their vacancy. Dead
flies glass the window

sill, wings rattling

like tissue paper
in wind. Ad infinitum
of shade pressed against

the pane. My dark

hallway has become
my very own low heaven.
Framed faces, some dead.

I have kept a picture

of every dog
I've ever loved. They have
nothing to say.

Need does not equal

or so I've been told.
A flamed elm shears

its arrow shaped leaves

in preparation of cold.
How tenderly
the burrowed insects

ink wet the pine-box breath

of a snapped limb.
They have made
their home. Clouds float

in a puddle of flipped

afternoon sky
as the figs, marooned
in a porcelain bowl,

sweat their sugar flavored

dew. And, I am here,
the get-well flowers

turn brown and drop

their many
sun-colored heads
for reasons

I will never understand.

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