Three Poems by Kelsey A. Solomon

Hell's Kitchen

Far from it for me to favor the chicken or the egg. 

I wouldn’t eat either until I was five 

when daddy finally coaxed me into sharing 

in his mustard shenanigans. It became a 

contest to dip scrambled origins 

in radioactive yellow blobs, slopped 

on a Styrofoam plate, eventually stained 

with enough turmeric to soothe 

any achy bone. I wouldn’t know 

the difference between a grilled wing 

or a sizzling bowl of breakfast, chewed 

into soppy wads until my jaws wrenched 

down from enough salt to turn 

a hungry kid into a grin 

or a gnashing-of-teeth supper

for two. He and I—frozen to our seat cushions—

would tell each other the same lie 

as we licked our fingers and forks for penance, 

drowning out the whys and the lettuce. 


October Heat Wave

He ate the deviled eggs

even when muggy air hung like spears

along the kitchen ceiling, where ultraviolent beams

caught every speck of paprika melting

into their oval, chipped frames,

and he didn’t mind the driftwood

along the lake where he fished

because line was cheaper then,

and I gravitate to rotten things

      and crimson,

especially at night when the water

became a chalkboard for our busy days

and maples shadowed our irritations

            like idle starships,

   safety nets to catch his voice

                              that knew, by heart, 

a yolky song about beginnings,

and I didn’t mind because

            his raspy baritone was free

                    and leaves bled for 

                                                         my joy.


Ars Poetica, Gynoecium

I begin to swell and stiffen at the pith

of heat beneath navel, so I

avoid diurnal glances that suspect a parasite,

nurture you in secret by lamplight

through pilfered metaphors,

doubt my readiness for birth.

Sure of my judgment, I pursue the hope monger,

who prescribes advice, a dissolvent,

assures me that I can force you to die.

He administers a shot of confidence,

to wait a day or two

settle in a safe space

ruminate on his candy

between lip and gum

until I feel the sickness.

The cramps strangle you in metronomic rhythm,

and you fall down my grooves in streams

onto the icy linoleum.

I wake to you itching for vamoose

and edit you into a puzzle,

but you float dead on the page,

a hushed dithyramb to white space.

I can’t bring myself to flush.

Born and raised in Hamblen County, Tennessee, Kelsey A. Solomon teaches composition and literature for Walters State Community College and serves on the editorial boards for the Mildred Haun Review and the Tennessee Mosaic. She holds a Master of Arts in English from East Tennessee State University and a Bachelor of Arts in English (Creative Writing) and Philosophy from Carson-Newman University, where her irrevocable union with poetry truly began. Her poems have appeared in Black Moon Magazine, Anthology of Appalachian Writers, and Pine Mountain Sand & Gravel, most which she's written in someone else's kitchen or in the Notes app on her phone when the muses demand.