Imagine Not Drowning – Kelli Allen (Editors’ Choice)

Spiked edged milkweed and one morning
soon the ankle scrapes won’t matter
and you will keep walking, pin dots
blooding-up your bones and shoes
right on past what was a minefield, bulbs
in orbit, neat circles and rows you planted
together. None of this means you are less
a dragon, less a waltzing wingman on fire.

Sometimes the leaving is not falling. Like this:
let’s say you have discovered the feathered
starfish, unexpectedly waiting in its tidal pool
and you turn to say look, notice, again, aloneness
as heat escapes your skin and you are fine.

We sew-up the lies we keep inward, thread
colors as insignificant now as before. Hurl your body
up into the rain, head bent back, throat to the clouds.
You escape, you climb, and the crash you hear against
those rocks is not meant for confessions, not now. Kiss
your own fingers; you have carried yourself home.
Kelli Allen.jpg

Kelli Allen’s work has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies in the US and internationally. She is a four-time Pushcart Prize nominee and has won awards for her poetry, prose, and scholarly work. She served as Managing Editor of Natural Bridge, is the current Poetry Editor for The Lindenwood Review, and holds an MFA from the University of Missouri St. Louis. She is the director of the River Styx Hungry Young Poets Series and founded the Graduate Writers Reading Series for UMSL. She is currently a Professor of Humanities and Creative Writing at Lindenwood University and teaches for The Pierre Laclede Honors College at UMSL. Her full-length poetry collection, Otherwise, Soft White Ash, arrived from John Gosslee Books in 2012 and was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize.