Sleetmagazine.com

Volume 12 • Number 2 • Fall - Winter 2020

Kathleen Hellen

it was supposed to rain today

for George Floyd

it didn’t, whites
and sulfurs, swallowtail, the seldom monarch
don’t live long

I dwell on warm days at my window
and they flit
from skirt of blossoms
to the nectar’s thinnest
branches. One small change,
and any calculation will return

past action. The rule
rounded to the thousandth.
For example, 1918.
A man in a village isn’t
shot, I was born.

A wrong turn in the middle of a road,
knowledge of the bomb—

like imprint of a bee affects the sting,
how fast the ball will fall, how lethal

like imprint of a knee affects the forecast,
he can’t breathe.

For example, the 60’s.
He was supposed to live,
he didn’t.

dispatch from the daily planet

A line of rubber bullets, pepper gas and
tears, of pushing punching throwing
people to the ground, people
toward the sound:
Lean on me,
when you're not strong.

Here’s the nut:
on the front lines of the battlespace,
the fraught metropolis,
it’s a bird, it’s a plane,
it’s Lois Lane less verbal than
Enemy of the people!
It’s Brenda Starr from Smallville.
The mic she drops a signal of
the flight from phalanx—fear,

self-censoring, cutting back on local
coverage, masked for gas, the flash bang
near her head less lethal than
attacks near the Syrian border.

I look up to the night sky for the hero.
It’s a bird, it’s a plane.
I light a cell phone for Khashoggi.

Kathleen Hellen’s collection Umberto’s Night won the Washington Writers’ Publishing House prize for poetry in 2012. Hellen’s honors include the Thomas Merton poetry prize and prizes from the H.O.W. Journal and Washington Square Review, as well as individual artist awards from the Maryland State Arts Council and the Baltimore Office of Promotion & the Arts. Her latest poetry collection is The Only Country Was the Color of My Skin.