read a poem Archives - Page 4 of 7 - ⚡️Kristen Kalp

Posts in "read a poem" Category — Page 4

The Domestic

I come from a family of butchers,
Blood soaking through the second kiss before dinner.
I feel them poor
Sometimes, boarding a sea-faring bathtub
With pockets of cheese and worthless coins and
Toys to tide the children over, week by week.

I feel them arrive, settle
— And those women, thick bones
Harnessing even the Pennsylvania sun —
Daughters with no secret corners of grace.
They beat rugs, drive horses, plow, cook, mend,
Fuck with abandon.
These women my ancestors
Know nothing of PMS, estrogen, excuses,
The word ‘demure.’ None of it
But hungry men, barking children,
Babies practicing their fists
In the amniotic slosh.

Here there is no room for nostalgia
Or scraped knees, only the land.
Meat, growth, winter, birth.
Survival, gravestones, a stocked cabinet;
The occasional Sears Roebuck catalog
And kneeling without prayer.

P.S. This poem appears in All the Selves I Used to Be, which contains 69 of my poems. Pick it up in paperback or in digital form!

Once-Failed Essay for Mr. Lesko

Poetry is the art of condensing the essential:
My nuts and bolts speaking
To your nuts and bolts,
No flesh or earth allowed.

It is in the love of nuns for a three-figured God
As much as cherry blossoms, orange peels,
All the times we said “No.”

It breathes and pulses like no other entity,
Clouding the planet with heady incense—
Alluring like sex and far more dangerous yet

Poetry is not near us, it is us–
So many houses with the roofs
Blown off, top floors open
And gaping at the sun.

P.S. This poem appears in All the Selves I Used to Be, which contains 69 of my poems. Pick it up in paperback or in digital form!

You come to find your voice by speaking.

You come to find your voice by speaking

Not by planning to speak
or reading transcripts of speeches
or buying courses to make your voice sound best
when you finally open your mouth
at some point in the distant future.

You come to find your voice
by uttering the truest words you have
in any given moment.

I hurt.
I’m struggling.
I can’t.

The first words are the hardest.
You’ve been silent for so long.

I need help.
I want some more.
I’d like to try.

The words grow more precise and powerful.

I need.
I want.
I am.

You’ll waver, here: the world will say
you don’t have the right.

I need, I want, I am.
I need, I want, I am.

By now you’ve come too far to honor any sound
save the steady drumbeat of your own heart.

I am, I am, I am,
and you are, too.

I’ll read this poem aloud to you AND talk the vulnerability of joy, diving deep into your psyche, creating healthy boundaries, and the wisdom of puppies in this interview on the Love, Jo podcast with Joanna Platt.  Go and listen!

For the unsung voices among us.


In honor of Women’s History Month, a poem for the ones who came before.

Dear Grandma

You never once got to stand on a podium
and make everyone listen. You buried your husband
and your son, and you worked all day every day
until you retired to the old brown chair.
No one was ever weighed down by your opinions
or objections or your voice in the world.

You never once got to stand on a stage
and hear everyone’s ears turning toward you.
You never got to be paid for your work:
shuffling laundry and sons from the dresser to school,
burning a line between the sink and the stove
so deep you couldn’t see your way out.

Your husband married you not out of love
or even something like affection, but because your sister
was already taken, and then you settled down and lived
in the same house on the same plot of land
until the old brown chair got thrown out.
Now you sit in the nursing home asking

Where is he, why doesn’t he pick me up
and take me home. For the first time, everyone listens
and answers carefully — repeatedly, relentlessly —
but you can’t hear the truth. Your voice warbles
around the room and returns to you, confused:
Where are you, why don’t you pick me up and take me home.

P.S. More poems here, or in book form here.

The Uprising.

There is no name for a nation
undoing its moral underpinnings,
freeing itself from the constraints
of the democratic experiment
the same way a woman sighs with such relief
when taking off her bra before bed.

There is no name for the dreams that come after:
drowning, climbing, plummeting to a certain death
and waking to find only faint sunlight
making its way through the window.

There are no maps for this place,
this soft burning that is not hate
but keeps trying to be.

There is no name for the uprising of the human heart.

P.S. 69 more of my poems here.