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About this poet

Keetje Kuipers is the author of three poetry collections: All Its Charms, forthcoming from BOA Editions in 2019; The Keys to the Jail (BOA Editions, 2014); and Beautiful in the Mouth (BOA Editions, 2010), winner of the A. Poulin, Jr. Poetry Prize. She is the recipient of fellowships from the Lucas Artist Residency, the Jentel Artist Residency Foundation, and the Brush Creek Foundation for the Arts, among others. She is a faculty member at Hugo House in Seattle, Washington, and senior editor at Poetry Northwest. She lives on an island in the Salish Sea.

Across a Great Wilderness without You

The deer come out in the evening.
God bless them for not judging me,
I'm drunk. I stand on the porch in my bathrobe
and make strange noises at them—
                                                  language,
if language can be a kind of crying.
The tin cans scattered in the meadow glow,
each bullet hole suffused with moon,
like the platinum thread beyond them
where the river runs the length of the valley.
That's where the fish are.
                                   Tomorrow
I'll scoop them from the pockets of graveled
stone beneath the bank, their bodies
desperately alive when I hold them in my hands,
the way prayers become more hopeless
when uttered aloud.
                            The phone's disconnected.
Just as well, I've got nothing to tell you:
I won't go inside where the bats dip and swarm
over my bed. It's the sound of them
shouldering against each other that terrifies me,
as if it might hurt to brush across another being's
living flesh.
                But I carry a gun now. I've cut down
a tree. You wouldn't recognize me in town—
my hands lost in my pockets, two disabused tools
I've retired from their life of touching you.

From Beautiful in the Mouth by Keetje Kuipers. Copyright © 2010 by Keetje Kuipers. Used by permission of BOA Editions.

From Beautiful in the Mouth by Keetje Kuipers. Copyright © 2010 by Keetje Kuipers. Used by permission of BOA Editions.

Keetje Kuipers

Keetje Kuipers is the author of three poetry collections: All Its Charms, forthcoming from BOA Editions in 2019; The Keys to the Jail (BOA Editions, 2014); and Beautiful in the Mouth (BOA Editions, 2010), winner of the A. Poulin, Jr. Poetry Prize. She is the recipient of fellowships from the Lucas Artist Residency, the Jentel Artist Residency Foundation, and the Brush Creek Foundation for the Arts, among others. She is a faculty member at Hugo House in Seattle, Washington, and senior editor at Poetry Northwest.

by this poet

poem

Walking at night, I read the house numbers
on those porches lit like vacant stairwells

hung along the mill’s lip, flights of metal
steps any type of weather might fall through,

and this gentle litany tolls the schedule
of departing ferries that take us from

island to city and back