C.M. Keehl

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