Poetry by Kelle Groom

"Untitled" by Janie Stamm / janiestamm.com




Between 7 & 9 am I did both cocaine & heroin,
walked naked in front of you.
Years before while we drove to the airport,
I saw your hologram, a time lapse to my
right, like a baby being born along a road
or the progression from ape to human,
bent backs straightening.
But it was all you, all the same face
lined up like Necco wafers in my mind.
I still had an idea of you, just a few
spheres in, but knew when I reached 
the end, it would be easy. 
No reason to hide, all walls dissolved.
A man said he missed abandon.
The coke barely made me high, maybe
it hadn’t kicked in, so maybe it didn’t 
count that I’d leaned over without 
a thought a care, maybe I was still sober, 
maybe I didn’t need to tell anyone, 33 years
is a long time, I don’t remember wanting
it wanting to let go give up give myself up.
When I woke I was so grateful it wasn’t
real, I didn’t tell anyone. Walked 
to the church in the November cold
dark, tripped on a chair, hit my head 
on a cabinet. No one cared. That wouldn’t
have been pretty I said, righting myself.
Asked Hillary if Top Mast had a pool, 
she thinks Willies has salt water–keeps
calling it the Norsemen–old name 
she says. Unrestrained & pitiless
they can hear the grass grow.  



The Woven Child

          Louise Bourgeois, 2002, fabric, wood, glass, and steel
She’s headless,
the mother all torso
baby veiled in a dark blue
womb below her breasts
resting like a book.
Her sewn-on nipples
look like mine light
buttons. I’d flown
through air outside a glass
church, tripped on the vastly
uneven sidewalk, landed
on one knee, palms bleeding,
jeans absorb more blood.
Used a railing like a rope
to pull myself into the Worcester
Art Museum where a girl
recoiled from my bloody hands,
gave me several bandaids.
Caught my breath on
cushioned benches, knee
swelling, arm sprained,
The Woven Child in a glass
box. I sat beside him or her,
the mother, their constant
rest. The interior is a portrait too.
A burial in light.
The underworld used to be
earth until it was mythical.
Special Problems include the white of ice
turning blue. Papers strewn balloon.
Shoes more like slip-ons, then tight at the ankle.
Someone waiting in 1971.


Kelle Groom is the author of four poetry collections: Spill, Five Kingdoms, Luckily (Anhinga Press), and Underwater City (University Press of Florida). Her poems have appeared in AGNI, American Poetry Review, Best American Poetry, The New Yorker, New York Times, Ploughshares, and Poetry. Groom’s memoir, I Wore the Ocean in the Shape of a Girl (Simon & Schuster), was a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection and New York Times Book Review “Editors’ Choice.” She is on the faculty of the low-residency MFA Program at Sierra Nevada College, Lake Tahoe, and director of education programs at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Massachusetts.