person Kelli Allen, a poem for Daniel Deardorff

Kelli Allen’s work has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies in the US and internationally. She has served as Poetry Editor for The Lindenwood Review and she directed River Styx’s Hungry Young Poets Series (2013-2017). She is currently a visiting professor of English Literature at 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.


Myth talker, deer singer
-for Daniel Deardorff

It’s a descent, Danny. The archers only miss
before winter. You have gone into that within
so many times. And now that invincible core
steels the eyes from elk to guide the way
forward. We limp toward the trees
together, between guitar strings you left
on the cabin porch and the two crows
who need materials for their hoary nest.

All the cunning in that universe is a gift
under the skin of what will not heal.
We recognized you coming through
our exiles, not to shame our monstrous
greed, but to lift packages from the floor
to decorate our birthing tables, to witness
our sorry faces when we ask what we missed.

You were iron from the quick, holder against
the keys spilt too soon from outturned pockets.
How could we know then to love you as you
built stone-by-stone these men who would stand
over our beds insuring limbs could uncurl into sleep?

Danny, the way out meant being weary of hunger
for the whole summer. We all end in a salty mound
of food not good enough for the brown rat’s shadow.
This is where those myths have gone. With you.
With the suffering of otherness, looking up.


3 thoughts on “person Kelli Allen, a poem for Daniel Deardorff

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