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Kari Gunter-Seymour

Kari Gunter-Seymour’s poetry collections include A Place So Deep Inside America It Can’t Be Seen, winner of the 2020 Ohio Poet of the Year Award; and Serving, runner up, Yellow Chair Review Chapbook Contest. Her work was selected by former US Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey to be included in the PBS American Portrait crowdsourced poem, Remix: For My People. Her poems appear in numerous journals and publications, including Verse Daily, Rattle and The NY Times. Gunter-Seymour teaches virtual monthly generative writing workshops and hosts a popular seasonal performance series “Spoken & Heard.” She is the Poet Laureate of Ohio and a 2021 Laureate Fellowship award recipient from The Academy of American Poets.

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For the poet Susan Sheppard

When first I met her – swinging the wrought
iron cemetery gate, lunar flower, barefoot
in a flowing frock, arms like silken petals,
gossamer sleeves open to mist-drenched air,
palms uplifted, ghost-lipping her appeal
to the King of Cups, the Knight of Wands,
Isis, Ra, Nike, Nyx, so determined she was to fly.

Tonight overhead, pin-pricked stars,
the moon milked of its pity, a dozen
crows shriek, planets spin in a black
cupboard of sky. Eyes glow phosphorous
under bearded woodland branches,
spiders spin sticky nets, bug-eyed moths
flit and pivot, sucked clean of color.
Bats swoop, dressed in prowler-dark
capes, tree frogs belch deep-throated dirges.

Gather ye hags, ye granny women,
ye angels, fairies, witches, druids,
you fantoms of the Tarot and Ouija –
you frightened boy who never grew old,
who only she could see.

When last I saw her – rooted deep inside
her mattressed chrysalis, her whelked
tresses coiling the pillows, she was swaddled–
a cocoon of gossamer threads and Egyptian
cotton, spellbound and dreaming,
growing her wings.


Throw away your shallow breaths,
your bloated belly, the tattered
leggings you’ve worn for months,
all of Netflix’ binge-badda-booms,
your bitch mode, your matted hair,
your tangents into disinfectant.

Set aside your relationship
with windows and doors.
Look–the twilight sky’s uncoiling
and you are under its spell,
a flatfoot fandango
inside a jitterbug of stars.

Run, lungs on fire, legs like a teen,
your fusty gasps unshackling
the fog from your brain.
Laugh. Lie flat on your back.
Sing grass songs. Listen–
Centaurus trills his flute of bone.
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