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Sean Kelbley

Kelbley_Carpenter_InnSean Kelbley lives with his husband on a farm in southeastern Ohio, in a house they built themselves. He works as an elementary school counselor. Sean’s first published poem was nominated for Best of the Net 2017 by The Rise Up Review. Since then, his work has been recognized in contests at Midwest Review, Still: The Journal, Up North Lit, and the Yuki Teikei Haiku Society. Among other fine places, his poems can be found online and/or in print at Crab Creek Review, The New Verse News, One, Pine Mountain Sand & Gravel, Poets Reading the News, Rattle, and Tipton Poetry Journal, as well as on the hiking trails of The Ridges in Athens, OH, and in the anthologies “Essentially Athens” ( ed. Kari Gunter-Seymour) and “Unsheathed: 24 Contemporary Poets Take Up the Knife” (ed. Betsy Mars).

Cancer’s Back

This time, a jacked-up pickup truck
off-roading through your innermost
interior. At the chemo suite

I hold your hand and watch you fill
with necessary poison. This is the last
defense. Already you’ve been excavated

like the Love Canal. Irradiated.
Inside my wallet is a picture from before,
you as a panoply of muscled vistas—

preserved, maintained with weights and
cardio and filtered water, antioxidants
and yoga and the right amount of

sleep—you as good steward
to a landscape. Our trip out West,
remember? Assholes ruined that, too:

a frat kid, back turned to the silent lip
of the Grand Canyon, screaming Gimme
french fries into withered Arizona; scabby

arms in Colorado, tossing garbage from a
Jeep Grand Cherokee to both sides of the
Continental Divide. Noisy trash. It just

shows up, and thumps and woofs and
tweets its tribal code to all the other freaks
through speakers piled high behind

the cab. It yells Let’s party! It goes
coal-rolling. It wants to turn each desert
into Burning Man.


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