What was the cause of death?
What is the difference? When
life is terminal and living on
Dirge is my dance.
You think move on.
I challenge you to
Unzip your skin and see
if you make it to the West Coast.
His life was not devastating to me.
Miracle of Lazarus echoed in
again and again, ‘till I almost
took them for granted.
He died of drink.
Deplorable, your eyes declare,
the debased death of
That’s my devotion.
Dissonance in experience versus wanting
Preferring the company of his grave or
Quiet is not discordant and there is
not at the stone, with the breeze,
amidst tree frogs so
fucking loud I can barely
hear his voice play back in mind.
Family Dinner: A Metaphysical Check-In
Angst of youth, elemental.
Global warming, yes,
but we shrunk the hole in
the ozone; the Gulf War
did not annihilate us;
Malthus was proven wrong.
Humans are smart, despite
evidence to the contrary.
An obligatory dinner
turned essential discussion.
Bullies tend toward half-wit
“You’re ugly and stupid,”
as though creativity isn’t
gorgeous. So we discuss
ingenuity and comebacks,
places for help, space
for ignoring, and expansive
possibilities in the transcendental,
or even God.
No one wants the night to end.
Full of doubt too, I check
myself against pop psychology —
parents it seems cause all Gen Z’s
anxiety. Do I solve
too many of your problems?
Do I pressure you to be happy?
No, they console, as miserable
as I was in ‘87, fretting the
the end of the world.
Escape and Loss
Note: “Dziadeck” (ʥadɛk) is
Polish for grandfather
When fires catch and spread, flee
before the smoke drowns you.
What can’t you leave without?
Your hat? The one your Dziadek gave
you when he moved to the old folks’ home —
the place your Dad never visited.
The pictures of you with your first love? —
ones in which you barely recognize
wanton smile and clear eyes.
Your dog who’s too old to jump or
fetch and will need to be carried outside
four times per day for the rest of her days?
What of when worry spreads, a
thick smog. Might stay with shallow
breaths for a bit, wave wildly to shoo thickness
away. But what do you grab if you run?
Do you gather his burdens? Hold them fast
in memory, refusing to fully unfurrow your brow,
as though it relaxes his?
Do you take trinkets that remind you of happy
days, the whole week’s worth, to remember
as though they were the whole life?
Do you take the hat and pictures and dog, as though
birth certificate and wedding license mean nothing?
What do you leave?
Guilt hides beneath fingernails;.
sorrow clings to laughs’ underbellies,
they will escape despite you.
But you might leave regret and waters
that douse the flames. If you have a choice,
you might leave anything that weeps.
Abandon things without breath,
lamps and games, and some things that breathe,
plushies who hold secrets, the melody
of “Why Me Lord?” rolled out in baritone waves.
Leave things too heavy to carry — hope chests,
jade plants, stooped shoulders —
things that shackle.
Eyes of the Dead
Flying past hoping the fare is enough,
although it never was this side of breath,
he sees, or rather perceives through coins,
and deflated eyes, the last cricket of the season,
chirping in twilight relief. Often nights
can’t be endured, exhausting to wrangle
with the sun in squints and shadows; some
nights wrap so gently in darkness.
Better he turns to fire and burn
than fight what rises every day.
Kristin Kowalski Ferragut Kristin Kowalski Ferragut teaches, plays guitar, hikes, supports her children in becoming who they are meant to be, and enjoys the vibrant writing community in the DMV. Her work has appeared in Beltway Quarterly, Fledgling Rag, Nightingale and Sparrow, Bourgeon, Magnolia Review, Mojave He[Art] Review, Anti-Heroin Chic, and Little Patuxent Review among others. She is the author of Escape Velocity (Kelsay Books, 2021). Kristin's children's book, Becoming the Enchantress, will be published by Loving Healing Press in 2021.