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Nebraska

By Devin Kelly

Poem

If you know a quiet that sings
the song of footsteps, if you know
an open window is an invitation
to trespass on another home’s
scent, if you know the lesson
of the Bible that says the man
who holds the taste of blood
in his mouth is the one who holds
the truth, if you know tall grass
from wheat, a cow’s low & gentle
moan from the soft howl of a coyote,
if you know the stars & try
each night to count them, if you
know flank from shoulder blade,
when to rub dry & when
to slather with sauce, if you know
how to cherish your own shadow
& have already given it a name
& a soul, if you know your mother’s
voice from a distance, if you know
the nothing that exists between
miles, if you know what your dreams
mean & if you keep a record of them
by your bed, if you know someone
just isn’t coming back, if you’ve tried
& then given up, if you know one
song that keeps returning to your head,
if you sing it in the shower, if you
think someone is listening, if you
are sometimes scared of everything,
if you’ve been in love before, if you
read novels sprawled out in the backseat
of your parent’s car, if some days
you prefer to watch the clouds,
if you feel alright alone, if you
want to meet someone who feels
alright alone with you.

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DEVIN KELLY earned his MFA from Sarah Lawrence College and co-hosts the Dead Rabbits Reading Series in New York City. He is the author of the collaborative chapbook with Melissa Smyth, This Cup of Absence (Anchor & Plume) and the forthcoming books, Blood on Blood (Unknown Press), and In This Quiet Church of Night, I Say Amen (ELJ Publications). He has been nominated for both the Pushcart and Best of the Net Prizes. He works as a college advisor in Queens, teaches at the City College of New York, and lives in Harlem.

One response to “Nebraska”

  1. Gareth Spark says:

    Incredibly accomplished work by a terrifically talented Poet. Pure gold. I have yet to read anything trivial or dull from Kelly, a writer whose least works are touched by authentic greatness.

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