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Kathleen S. Burgess

Kathleen S. Burgess, senior editor, Pudding Magazine: The Journal of Applied Poetry is a retired public school music teacher in Chillicothe, Ohio. Former juror and member of Women of Appalachia Project’s “Women Speak,” her poetry appears in North American Review, Sou’wester, Main Street Rag, Central American Literary Review, La Presa, and others. She authored chapbooks, Shaping What Was Left (Pudding House), and Gardening with Wallace Stevens (Moria Books), and edited the anthology Reeds and Rushes—Pitch, Buzz, and Hum (Pudding House). A full-length poetic memoir, What Burden Do Those Trains Bear Away, is a 2018 publication from Bottom Dog Press. A second book, The Wonder Cupboard, is forthcoming from NightBallet Press in 2019. Please visit

I’m a pilgrim light needles into place

No art is possible without a dance with death.
—Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse Five

Stitches drop from a quilted sky.
Light fractures. No. That was then.

Now skeins of cirrus
reflect the cold ordinary.

I’m about to pack away
ornaments of the old year.

Under January’s ceiling,
green branches jangle icicles, bells.

The glass rings a mantra,
a summons unraveling time.

I’ve seen Time slow,
as one arthritic hand casts on.

Knit forward. Purl back. Bind off, clip,
and done. Buttoned up but crooked.

One moment I’m walking upstairs;
the next, blinded by sun-flash

through window glass—
the way klieg lights usher

a hero into the Hall of Death,
through a bright, illusory doorway.

Into a silence dreamt backwards,
ice sweaters a freeway bridge.

The car’s a slow-motion accordion
squeezed by an ambulance.

In the back seat children wake in terror.
We rub our eyes. Glitter for days.
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