Poetry by Katie Schmid

Image by José Garza / sentiwere.org


Margot as a Unit of Space

for my daughter

In the beginning there was a star and inside the star a Margot
and the universe leapt out of the star, and the universe was

made of many Margots because the smallest unit of time &
the smallest unit of life is a Margot, and the largest thing

you can possibly think of is a Margot, made out of tiny Margots
stacked all together. This is a defense against your death, I know:

to see you celestial, to imagine your many eyes cast far
out into the yawp of thick black space. If an ocean is ink, if

the stars are flung from the sky and into that placid black,
the ocean might seem to hold, briefly, the stars.

I say it is brief.

It is brief and the sky always calls the star back to
it, with that manner of recall that some might call a song.

The star will go; it will greet its sisters with language it has
spent its whole life trying to remember, happily, now remembered.

I say it is brief. I hold you in my arms. Even now, I feel you leaving.



All My Boyfriends Love My Father the Best

He comes to pick me up on his Harley he shows up
with his earring and his jean jacket and my boyfriends
sigh like they want a boyfriend too

he’s blaring Led Zeppelin and smoking a Marlboro
and pretending he likes them as much as me asking
who they’re reading oh yeah, he’s the shit my Dad

says and my boyfriends go a little sweet in the knees—tell me
again, they say, what he did time for? an ex con who reads!,
who listens to Marley and drinks coffee like a grad student

whose hands are calloused from some romantic labor
and all those tattoos—I can see them squinting
when they look at him, imagining he’s Kerouac—

he’s everything they ever dreamed and a Jungian too—
and I know that love where you try so hard to get someone
to see you and it feels like you’ll never be let in to the mystery

no matter how hard you batter your body against the door,
no matter—I pity my boyfriends and I pity myself too.



How They Die

We heard it was an accident, but his mother says different.

They drink themselves until their persons unravel.

Homeless, on the beach, doing ice.


In other countries, screaming.

They go mad and we forget them.

They hang themselves.


Alone, or in the house of some other sickened father.

Often and in numbers too many to count.

They go into a tunnel and never come out.



Katie Schmid has been published in Best New Poets, The Rumpus, The Pinch, and elsewhere. She lives in Lincoln, Nebraska with the writer David Henson and their daughter Margot.