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Karen Holman

A Clasp the Sun

Opens and Closes the Sky


I’ve tucked my mother into a secret

fold that closes-up, tears

open then closes again

like my first purse

with silver dollars and quarters


that used to be magical.

Now money is acres to harrow

before the rains come.


She left with my locket

between her hands

into the country of the future

where language won’t fruit for me.


Here’s my letter from

a three-month tundra-night—

I hope you forget me.


If there is a blossoming here-

after, I think I’ve glimpsed it


otherwise, there’s no where

she would be unbroken.

adverse events

little violence,

the key’s

tsk, tsk,


a lock




in air


boiling pot


its lid


pulling free the roots


zesting, sighing

closing the blinds


thirty in

thirty days

has September


little violence

of irony

putting a glass

on the table


filling it

with milk.


Zero Times Zero Times Zero

No single person disappears

when she dies

but a collective death slips

behind the horizon

so night may reign.

Ghosts are homeless,

their bodies abandoned buildings—

sockets gone dark as blood

strangled of oxygen.

First eyelids stiffen—

nothing to see here.

Next the jaws lock

a voice in forever.

Then the muscles of the neck

go rigid from the repetitive injury

of turning, turning my head.

Our North Forty



our cerulean house

               as if the horizon flowers

its palmate umbrella, psalm, an air,

               ecumenical light

                             in icicles

poppies floating in a clear bowl


clean sheet, billowing sail

               the green where we lay

                            tic of forgetting

pulled by night’s drawstring


                             In that other world

where we never meet,

              I think I probably drowned.

Karen Holman Poems

Karen Holman works in Detroit as a crisis counselor and advocate for individuals and families experiencing homelessness and mental illness. Her chapbook, Welcoming in the Starry Night of the Lightning Bees, features in New Poets, Short Books, vol. IV, ed. Marvin Bell and she serves on the editorial staff of december magazine. She’s been nominated for several Pushcart awards and her poetry has aired on NPR. Composer David Evan Thomas selected her work to frame his oratorio, The First Apostle, about the life of Mary Magdalene.

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