Holding your breath without looking
There are exactly 3 ways to step from one room
to the next with no weeping.
Pinecones liter the earth
without remembering – the same
way I looked down & saw scared knuckles
around my throat,
but didn’t fall.
The dog comes
sniffing for warmth,
& the absence of feeling
morphs with the compassion
once kept safe in your veins.
Remember that time you packed
my suitcase full of soft green sweaters?
I am white at the tips where you left me,
I am stick with a sweetness you'll never taste.
Haunt & Hunger Before You Wake
Sometimes I forget where home is, get lost in the shower
& find myself locked in your ribs
with the desperation of a prophet from Kansas trying
to get to Michigan
for lake-frozen rest;
I was there & you weren’t, you never
were when I felt the newsprint
turn to ash in my mouth & met
the demon in the icebox. It pinned me down, butterflied
me open but left me empty in the end;
there was nothing I could do but hold my lungs
full of words & pray to cauterize close.
I told you I was more than intrepid fingers thirsting on a Sunday,
you told me you were never going to disappear.
C.M. Keehl's poems have been published in several print and online publications, including Dirty Chai Magazine, Trans Lit Mag, and Welter.