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Kathleen Hellen

Headlights on the Bottom-Feeders

Salt-spit in September’s fin

The old man polishing the bar is


hemingwaying little wisdoms, like, you sure can pick ‘em


For now, at least, I’ve got a yuengling

compliments of him who’s dropping low balls with his stick   


he’s got a she-boat in the slip he wants to take me out in    until


the tide brings you in, toothpick swiveling in your grin. Tall drink—

though I know you can’t swim


You’re weathered grey on splintered stilts. A blind fish squirming

The exit ramp that ends another month with “r”


They Remembered the Nightgown I Wore

Under the nebula of streetlights

my eyes returned the men

I thought might save me


pacing the summer arcade—men

who warned off life’s interrogations—men

the height


to all my stepped



                                    who called my name

Priests of ambush—men


the ten to every six

every seven—men


vaguely human

I never caught a ride going anywhere I wanted

Kathleen Hellen poems

Kathleen Hellen is the author of the collection Umberto’s Night, winner of the Jean Feldman Poetry Prize, and two chapbooks, The Girl Who Loved Mothra and Pentimento. Her poems have appeared in Barrow Street, The Massachusetts Review, North American Review, Poetry East, the Sewanee Review, and elsewhere. Nominated for the Pushcart and Best of the Net, and featured on Poetry Daily, her poems have been awarded the Thomas Merton poetry prize and prizes from the H.O.W. Journal and Washington Square Review.

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