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a literary journal published by the Black Earth Institute dedicated to re-forging the links between art and spirit, earth and society

Kathleen Hellen

dog days

“The surface / Of the mirror being convex, the distance increases / Significantly; that is, enough to make the point / That the soul is a captive.” Ashbery



here they come—at 8 a.m. the heat already pawing at the pavement. Already, the stink of human failing in the bins. A cannibal of energies I dog the streets, leashed to trees, throwing shade on idle heat, the mpgs, the limbs exhausted in the captive flatulence of buses. I trapeze the blistered waves. The sun, coal fired. I pant along long stretches like the desert in Arabia. Impossible to know the north of south, the mirage neither the illusion nor hallucination. I see myself reflected—a darling of appliances, a howling: …it’s been a long cold lonely winter.


“Look on my Works … and despair!”—from “Ozymandias,” Percy Bysshe Shelley



In the redundancy of waste—nothing, besides the thick black plume that rises over vast incinerations. The planet stimming on the spectrum of disorders situated round the infertilities. The cancers (liver, kidney…). The note in the plastic


bottle washed up on the shore—enough

to choke fish, clog oceans, fill the landfills—enough


to last 250 lifetimes.

They say the bags that film and float decay in 10-20 years, but plastic, in one form or another, waits, returns in violence:


Kathleen Hellen’s collection meet me at the bottom is forthcoming in Fall 2022. Her credits include The Only Country Was the Color of My Skin, her award-winning collection Umberto’s Night, published by Washington Writers’ Publishing House, and two chapbooks, The Girl Who Loved Mothra and Pentimento. Featured on Poetry Daily and Verse Daily, her work has appeared in Barrow Street, The Carolina Quarterly, Colorado Review, Harpur Palate, jubilat, Massachusetts Review, New Letters, North American Review, Painted Bride Quarterly, Poetry Northwest, Prairie Schooner, The Rumpus, The Sewanee Review, Subtropics, The Sycamore Review, and West Branch, among others. Hellen’s awards include prizes from the H.O.W. Journal and Washington Square Review, as well as individual artist awards from the Maryland State Arts Council and the Baltimore Office of Promotion & the Arts. She has served on the editorial board of Washington Writers’ Publishing House and as senior poetry editor for the Baltimore Review.

Other works by Kathleen Hellen »

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