Kenzie Allen is a Zell Postgraduate Fellow at the Helen Zell Writers’ Program at the
University of Michigan, and is a descendant of the Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin.
Her work has appeared in Sonora Review, The Iowa Review, Drunken Boat, Apogee, Word Riot,
The Puritan, and elsewhere, and she is the Managing Editor of the Anthropoid collective.
She was born in West Texas.
Letters I Don't Send #5
Somewhere upstairs, Marilyn and Joe
sit down to discuss their grievances. Her beautiful legs
crossed toward the door; he doesn't ask to smoke,
just sparks one up and goes down the list. That damn
skirt of yours, always saying hello. Barely saw you,
but everyone else gets an eyeful. They wallop each other
with foam swords. Marilyn flings herself backwards,
eyes closed, and Joe catches her. In my past life
I was Cleopatra. Joe's past life involves a sand lot,
sometimes Joe dreams only in shades of grass.
Joe wallops a little harder this time with the foam
sword. Tell me what you were thinking. Cut the hyperboles.
Marilyn tries to explain to the tune of
Happy Birthday. Joe defriends her (on the facebook). Joe says
I won't wish you a Happy Birthday because
you never wished me a happy anything.
Sometimes the Dreams Make Me Angry
so that I wake up hating the lump of you
snoring and the covers you've thrown off.
Sometimes a new man comes to me, says
Can I kiss you now like if I said Don't
he would anyway, and so I let him, and he
does. He kisses me like no real man.
Midnight I woke up but my eyes didn't,
striking out at your uncovered head
with my little hands, night-possessed,
legs like lead weights—the Daffy Duck
25-lb block kind—you said What the Hell
has gotten into you and I said What hasn't
you wanted to hit me back but you didn't
this time and then that man kissed me.
While You Were Away
The day I went to each door
in that neighborhood of bright adobe
begging foliage, some school project, please:
give me your best plants,
and the door of the art deco
tiled like mermaid fins, shiny green,
opens to a woman who looks nothing like
my mother. She piles into my hands
sea-lavender and sicklepod,
spider orchid, Flyr's
we were missing.
In the red brick with the red porch,
I baggied the greenery, stapled the bags
to the back of a For-Sale, gas station
posterboard, sharpied FLORIDA
FLORA, and set out my cab fare for the morning.
Don’t stay up, you had said
en route to Atlanta. But I did, late
into the night, a nail-biting firework
sipping Coke from neon straws.
Ask Me How It Happened
There are ways to explain a lack
of warmth, rasp, tickle, absent
from the alienated limb. The fish knife
slices to bone through tender nerves
on the left side of the tarsal. Weight
like horse hooves, or granite—in my case,
composites of shale—compress, shear,
press into translucence, the skin
black and purple and bone-yellow, and
dead. There is nothing between
surface and interior, there is nothing
but pain and then: nothing, numb
in concentric circles from the wound.
My left knee with its moonfaced scar
can't feel you, dear, yes, even now, even
when you press hard with a single pin.
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