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Kari Gunter-Seymour

Kari Gunter-Seymour is the Poet Laureate of Ohio. Her poetry collections include Alone in the House of My Heart (Ohio University Swallow Press, 2022) and A Place So Deep Inside America It Can’t Be Seen (Sheila Na Gig Editions, 2020), winner of the 2020 Ohio Poet of the Year Award. Her work has been featured on Verse Daily, World Literature Today, The New York Times and Poem-a-Day. A ninth generation Appalachian, she is the editor of I Thought I Heard A Cardinal Sing: Ohio’s Appalachian Voices (Sheila-Na-Gig Editions, 2022), funded by the Academy of American Poets and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the Women of Appalachia Project’s anthology series, Women Speak.

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Blink of An Eye

We said touched, thinking God himself
had stretched out a divine hand
to ruffle Sammy’s sun-streaked noggin,
cradle his bonny freckled face.

So proud he’d just lost his two front teeth,
folks couldn’t help but pet him,
listen closely for clues to his private
word-hoard, a succinct series of whistles,
clicks, full-edged giggles, hugs
or hand-blown kisses for the lucky.

He had a knack, could eyeball tiniest
details from a distance, would point, squeal,
run a mad dash to explore.
Today it was waking to snow, icicles,
a mirror of ice stretching the pond.

His mama stirring oatmeal, be-bopping
to Bonnie Raitt, glanced out the window
too late, watched our blanket-clad boy
skid across the pond, grind to a halt,
throw up his arms, disappear.


Crows Came

swear to God, pecked
at windows, nosey as church ladies
in sleek bleak choir robes,
squawked perilous predictions.

But even they, fleet feathered,
urgent, Goth as teenagers
at a Bauhaus concert,
could not best destiny.

Here you are ash and bone
and perfectly pulverized pelvis,
urn bronzed and banal, etched
in shifting shapes and small buddha.

How could you know
the pelvis, dense and rigid,
does not degrade inside the roaster,
must be man-handled, coaxed,
pounded into powder?

How the funeral fiduciaries
perch side by side, their slaty,
buzzard-backs hunched,
rasping the lurid details—

a meticulously manicured
talon, indicating where to sign
on the dotted line.


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