diode v9n1



Ode to a Physicist 

frenzy of their friction scurries particles in motion
                        makes the world

            a problem in the brilliant sense of somewhat

                        although fierce carmine eyes of vehicles
            are operated by a force I fail

     to understand & words       my bread
                            & butter                   are combustible       unstable

            suffer is a sign    enacts pain’s oscillation
                    with allowance

                                             martyrs are allowed indefinitely
                                     to hang around
                                                      as saints

                                      & gentle
                                      means to break a horse

            Feynman reminds our eyes
are zones of brain
                              grown out to meet the light—

                                  what might this imply
                        for soul?

            forever bridegroom of my body

where’d you go
            on business trips

                        to sleep?

            was it over lakes of infinitely miniscule divisions
                        that you fractured into

Brownian motion inside gravestones

            is a finer version of eternal life than what I had
in mind in high school

                        so now tell me      what do people eat
            who start to understand the world?

            the teacher is a genius
of impatience

            but he wouldn’t eat an animal

                        for me signs meat
                                               & cow

                        remain conveniently discrete


Keep Right      Keep Right

                                    has a tiny


give me hagiography
& give me death


                        but not before a basic course in physics

we look at us with tenderness              dismay
                   (H-bomb maker loves his little daughter)

            what did I learn from him?

                        joy is
            to find a problem


Finally, the girls

get to do what they’re told—
shut up and sing.

Exhausting, so many mixed messages.
I wear the fox stole,

livid beauty of such monstrous
object I’ll never forget.

After the show I stand behind
Harry for the photograph.

He sits beside the keyboard
in his pawnshop tux,

hands calm as a sniper’s, tight
 white lilies in his black lap.

After the camera moves on
he snaps Get me a whiskey don’t

smoke don’t talk to nobody.
This is just the next impossibility.

I lean on the bar, let my fox-
head do the speaking.

She says Honey give me a double
strongest poison in the house:

the varmit’s got me
soul and body

by the neck and twisting it—
fucker can’t see I’m already dead.  


Kathleen Winter is the author of Nostalgia for the Criminal Past (Elixir Press), winner of the Antivenom Prize and the Texas Institute of Letters 2013 Bob Bush Memorial Award.  Her poems have appeared in Tin House, AGNI, The New Republic, Memorious, The Cincinnati Review, Poetry London and elsewhere. She was awarded fellowships at the Dora Maar House, Ménerbes, France; James Merrill House; Cill Rialaig Retreat and Vermont Studio Center.  In Fall 2015, she was the Ralph Johnston Fellow at the Dobie Paisano Ranch in Austin, selected by the University of Texas Graduate School and the Texas Institute of Letters. She teaches writing and literature at Napa Valley College.