Photo of Kelsi Rose

(Photo of Kelsi Rose)


January Words

Every evening, we black out the windows.
Every evening, we wait and we sleep while we can,
until the children are no longer sleeping, until a shrill cry thirteen months
in the making, cuts through the night, through the cold air.
It is January and the windows are all open.
He says it helps him sleep.
I say it makes me oversleep, tell him how
I canŐt get out of bed when my skin
is shrink-wrapped to my bones.
I say, itŐs cold in my muscles. He says, let me hold you closer. 
He says, let me put another blanket on the bed.

It is January and the trees are all naked.
We are naked and the cold creeps into the room
and doesnŐt leave. It has been invited
and does not know that it has overstayed its welcome.

He runs his fingers through my short hair
and in the morning, it stands on end, as if it remembers
being stroked into the pillow. It is a bedmess
and he whispers, you are beautiful.

In the morning, crystalline day hymnals
cut across the sky like blades,
cut white and clementine into a canvas
that never stops changing. In the morning,
I piece together my bones and you are not in the bed.
It is January,
and the winter sunrises
bleed into my joints, fill me with a semblance of warmth,
remind me what it feels like to smile.

In the morning, my hands tremble
in the frost, in the moments where
anything could shatter.


Day & Night

Fire opal light show;
the sun wears the sky
like a mardi gras mask
and dances all


Darkest before the dawn
cigarette ash and frost;
how the moon wears
the clouds like smoky eye—
robustly soft.



Winter comes
and you are still
wearing last season's
scarecrow arms,
mold & old hay. 

                      It comes and you
                      are still torn between frost
                      and pumpkin patch dreams. 

It comes and you 
take the stitches
out of your mouth
and finally learn
to speak. 


Aquaphobia:  An Exercise in Exposure Therapy

tasteless, except in the ocean;
except in near-drownings,
all that seawater in your mouth—
the burning in your lungs,
         in the bridge of your nose.

Take a deep breath.
         You are no longer there.

Touch the outline of the east coast on your map.
Remember how the sand felt gritty in your hands,
in your hair, stuck in your teeth.

Drink the glass of water.
Imagine you are a speck of gold scales
in a fishbowl, swim until you know nothing
                  but swimming.

Fill the bathtub with water.
Let the water rise up your shins to kiss your knees.
Sit down in it. Try to sink yourself;
become a submarine.

You are no longer drowning.



The new year came
the new year told me
it's time to get your life together again.
It's time to have another child.
It's time to lose the weight you
were trying to lose two years ago.

It told me,
your goals are stalemate.
You have been standing still too long.
It said,
put your head down.
Put your nose to the grindstone.

So I joined the gym. I called the radio station
49 times to win tickets I didn't really care about,
         my husband would have liked them.

The new year said,
keep writing. Chip away at your reading list,
schedule appointments and keep them.
Do the things you were afraid to do.

I called 35 more times. I still didn't win.

© Kelsi Rose

Bio: Kelsi Rose is a renowned poet and award-winning photographer. She has appeared as a speaker and featured performer at the Almost Uptown Poetry Cartel, the Writer's Wordshop, and the King's Courtyard Artist Collective. Kelsi currently resides in the outskirts of Harrisburg, Pensylvania with her husband, two kids, and their dog.

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Kelsi Rose's work is forthcoming in "Heart of Courage" from Swyers Publishing, "your mother's white-washed words" from JMF Publications, "Words Speak" "The Drowning Girl," and "Paperback Wings and Patchwork Eyes" from Winter Goose Publishing.