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Editor's Note



Five Poems
by Kelley J. White

my body split open
like a stone and sang
a praisesong
to the mothers
cave gone light
with dawn

Marian’s Coffee’s Gone Cold
Grounds emptied into her daughter’s sink
Two hands trembling
Cigarette burnt down to her fingers
Drawn shades let first light
Spell out the dry morning news

Martial Art
after you fell in love
with that poster of Bruce Lee bleeding
like an arrowless Sebastian I
went into the back of the little shop
and had them wrap up
a clay statue as tall as your arm as a gift. 
You set him on your bookshelf in
fighting stance but his balance was poor--
I heard the crack at midnight. 
The only thing broken off
was his hard leading fist.

tomorrow is father’s day
they’re here, children,
two couples spooning
in the beds on maternity
a baby boy
bundled as peace
at the foot of each bed,
the girls, small, after their bellies
have emptied
the boys, manchildren,  cornrowed braids,
backward baseball caps, hoodies
they wake to argue
over newborn names
I leave them to new anger
already divided in their sons
and what has this world offered them
the painted pride of a street mural
on the vacant street
a fallen rowhouse
the ghost of stairs
climbing behind
a flaking waterfall
we watched the children
dancing last night
beside Lotus Academy
a carnival squatted
on an empty lot
and over the boarded up world
a little bird
harries a hawk

I have put my right hand in charge
of too many things so I am going to try
to love you with my left knee and give my feet
over to the families at my work.  How
to be fair?  I have three children. 
Do I give the girls my ears and
the boy my nose?  Ah, this is
almost balanced: my lips to
my daughters, tongue to
my son.  (No, that doesn’t
sound right.)  My poor
backbone will do service
to my mother and my teeth
have followed my father
to another place and inside,
well, you have my stomach,
the children have my guts,
my patients have my liver
but I still keep my heart
in my own canopic

Pediatrician Kelley J. White worked in inner-city Philadelphia and now works in rural New Hampshire. Her poetry has appeared in journals, including Exquisite, SNReview, Corpse, Rattle, and JAMA. Her most recent books are Toxic Environment (Boston Poet Press) and Two Bird in Flame ( Beech River Press). She received a 2008 PCA grant.

Copyright 2011, Kelley J. White. © This work is protected under the U.S. copyright laws. It may not be reproduced, reprinted, reused, or altered without the expressed written permission of the author.