Poetry: Kyle Hemmings

Kyle Hemmings is a retired health care worker. He has been published in Sonic Boom, Burning Word, Unbroken Journal, Otata, and elsewhere. He loves 50s Sci-Fi movies,  manga comics, and pre-punk garage bands of the 60s. 

What Can Be Saved 


After his girlfriend, with the champagne-sparkling eyes and clenched-jaw pain,
killed herself, he takes in her cat.  He vows to keep it forever, the one she named Yoyo,
even with its incurable kidney disease. Cleaning the cat litter, he feels sad
at the acrid odor of piss, sometimes smelling like undiluted ammonia.
When Yoyo looks into Charley's eyes, which seem lately, so vacant in mirrors,
he sees himself and the old girlfriend walking in circles, stretches of nowhere,
the both of them reading each other's mind, fragments of content. Questions and questions.
Should they still marry and make a go at it, despite her prognosis?
How long or short should a life be, anyway? But she says, no. He will meet someone else.
Someone who will not depend on plastic tubes and an assortment of IVs,
 both fast and slow drip. Or slow progressing to fast to nothing.
Someone who will not wrap him up in her underworld of sickness.
The last night he saw her, she offered him a lukewarm prudent kiss.
Sometimes, Charley has crazy thoughts. Like if Yoyo dreams, does she dream
 of being a sloth, so quiet and still and upside down, watching Charley
and the girlfriend make love from a different perspective. And the sight of it
 would turn Yoyo back into being a cat. A cat who whines
at the terribly flawed beauty of it all.


Barbie

She memorizes facts about dangerous fleas and thinks Pinocchio
 was a violin prodigy locked in a wooden tower. Tonight,
she has the pool, the one her mother bought on sale, all to herself.
She inspects her breasts, developing slower than the other girls
at Grower's High. But still they are larger than the ones she's seen
on fashion models. Theirs, she calls "peach pits". In the pool,
she floats on her back, wants to swim to the stars, tread, when tired,
in the still shallow night. Looking up, she fixates on the Big Dipper,
that huge ladle or is it something else? Could it be the arm of a handsome
but gristly sailor. Star sailor. Did his life crash under the waves?
She raises her chest to the sky, hoping for a celestial feel.
Hoping to save both the sailor and herself.


This Poem Will Not be Written


The little life that I love the most, with parts that stay raw and intact,
is a poem stuck inside my head, never to get out. No matter how I try
to get the poem out of my head, stretching or standing upside down,
 performing the most advanced yoga postures, the poem just stays there
 in the half-lit room of my brain, saying "You need to drink some water.
 Exercise will dry you out." Sometimes I get angry and the poem sighs
 or mocks me in slant rhymes. I tell the poem, "I'm going to forget you.
 No more trying to keep the peace (the piece? That piece?). I'm just going
to keep one person happy. I will tell every poet-friend, every snotty writing teacher--
I have never written a poem. I have never harbored some small angry animal inside me
 that bites and attaches itself to my bones and shape-shifting memories.
From here out, I'm just going to walk the walk. Talk the talk. Forget you.

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