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Laurie Kutchins

About the Poet

Laurie Kutchins has published three books of poems from Texas Tech University Press and BOA Editions. 

Her poems and lyric essays have appeared in The Georgia Review, Ploughshares, Poetry, LIT, Orion, The Kenyon Review, The New Yorker, and elsewhere. 

She directs the creative writing program at James Madison University and is a resident faculty poet in the Jackson Hole Writers Conference.

Spring 2013 Poems »
Marriage as a Door
Patina and weather
doorknob of brass
made to last although
it loses its shine small
glass window for peering
in or out hinges that squeak
from use and wobble
loose because the screw
won’t widen with the
stripped wood-hole
peephole one-way for
the stranger threshold
passed over daily
taken for granted
lock that gets stuck latch
unfastened or fastened
in a slam or a whisper
dependable good enough
door that opens and shuts
closing or opening


Three Meditations on the Number Three
Three is the address of the home, the right side stroke-scrambled.
Three is the sound of laughing and crying at the same time.
Three is the root of the sky trying to move the paralyzed tree.
Three makes half of eight, napping infinity of half brain half belly.
Three makes the small walking hallway of the kneecap.
Three makes Jimmy the melting snowman, mangoes boiled for the icebox.
Three equals yes, no, five dogs whose tails all wag to the name Three.
Three equals the nuclei of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony in Darwish’s exile.
Three equals hoops on a basketball court, and applesauce, insurance, and sad jazz.
Three narrows the slippery gossip about the other side.
Three narrows how many letters you need in a game of scrabble.
Three narrows a family to I love you, I never did, come home now.
Three thymes with how many wings you need to become poetry.
Three rhymes with the soul taking inventory of the trinity.
Three rhymes with mystery, with labyrinth key.


No one thinks they will die in August, except in a sentence
complaining of the heat. The corn on the road to the clinic
grows so tall you can play hide and seek in it. You paraglide
in August, to see how it feels to swoop your own meadow
like a bird of prey, counseled by air calm in early morning.
You go backpacking, inaugurate a tent, a sleeping bag
that sleeps you like a mummy down to freezing.
You go rafting for a week on the river of no return.
You gorge on cob corn. Peaches, melons, tomatoes
at road stands where you drop change into slits cut
in lids of coffee cans. You gorge on berries and picking,
enough to fill your bucket, your freezer, enough to stain
the tongue into wanting to live eleven more months until
August comes to glut all over again. Out of nowhere,
weeks after the aneurysm and service, you remember
your father remembering something he used to do
as a boy on the farm in Minnesota. He would lie down
with the cows when he felt sick. This is what August does.
It comes to a chirring paradox that cannot grow
any taller, any sweeter. You hear him saying how the heat
of the milk cows could heal him.


Man with Swagger
Don’t follow us,
person seated at a window but not looking up.
Or a woman flocking to look the empty boxes in the eye.
The highway rambles here. Here
the haze, the grass still
like you,
forests and veins,
the elders who heal their own bones
expanding on and on.
Or a singer of blues, a father of warmth.
Or a man just walking with a swagger toward
the back, energized, chest thrust out.
For we will find you.
You will come walking on one side of the street.
Fetal willows uprooted angrily inside the brain.
Not quite dead below the hips and
brave enough, our artless USA, our poet, our Walt
some crazy century after your first prophecy.
Laurie Kutchins ~

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