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About this poet

Kathy Fagan received an MFA from Columbia University and a PhD in English from the University of Utah.

She is the author of five books of poetry: Sycamore (Milkweed Editions, 2017), for which she was awarded the Ohio Poet of the Year award; Lip (Eastern Washington University Press, 2009); The Charm (Zoo Press, 2002); MOVING & ST RAGE (University of North Texas Press, 1999), winner of the 1998 Vassar Miller Prize for Poetry; and The Raft (Dutton Press, 1985), winner of the National Poetry Series.

Fagan is the recipient of fellowships from the Ingram Merrill Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Ohio Arts Council. She is a professor of English at Ohio State University, where she also directs the MFA program, as well as the poetry editor of OSU Press and advisor to The Journal.


Sycamore (Milkweed Editions, 2017)
Lip (Eastern Washington University Press, 2009)
The Charm (Zoo Press, 2002)
MOVING & ST RAGE (University of North Texas Press, 1999)
The Raft (Dutton Press, 1985)


How many times the blood rush of truck, bus & subway
     has passed below my window.
How often this body, meant to bend & breed—squat like
     my mother’s, her mother’s & hers—has
paced instead, inside its head, gazing skyward for a noun or phrase to
     shatter the glass of our locked cars & save us,
original cloud
     that might break over all:

raccoon washing its hands like a surgeon in the birdbath,
girl at the drive-through deciding only 42 percent of humanity
     sucks, the rest of them hungry or high,
their wheels aglow like daisies, their wounds debrided, unbridled . . .

Jesus, Mary & Joseph, I have blamed you for everything—
     the decades broken like your rosaries, our few family belongings
missing, glued or taped . . .

     Back home, the air
is scented with Japanese lilac & catalpa’s orchid blooms—
     all of us colonized, colonizing:
your body made to carry mine
     dismantled, finally,
     in flame, to this,
of which I am but remnant, a speck
fished from a tear duct with your tongue.

Whose easy laugh is that I’m hearing now?
Whose loneliness, unbroken, goes rolling in the blood?

Copyright © 2018 Kathy Fagan. This poem originally appeared in Tin House, Winter 2018. Used with permission of the authors.

Copyright © 2018 Kathy Fagan. This poem originally appeared in Tin House, Winter 2018. Used with permission of the authors.

Kathy Fagan

Kathy Fagan

Kathy Fagan is the author of Sycamore (Milkweed Editions, 2017). She lives in Ohio.

by this poet


Mice drink the rainwater before dying by
the poison we set in the cupboard for them.
They come for the birdseed, and winter
is so grey here the sight of a single cardinal
can keep us warm for days. We’ll justify
anything—and by we, I mean I, and by
I, I mean we, with our man-is-the-

after Encounters at the End of the World by Werner Herzog

With booms & chirrs seals
speak under the ice of an ocean
frozen over.
Stationary ocean. Electrified song.
Color: snow day with autumn
leaves inside it, 
glassene sheers of cantaloupe & kiwi on
lavender, gunmetal, jetwing—
				   When you