Three Poems by Kirstin Allio

Night Swimming

Our houseguest
wears a tiny cross
on a thread of a chain
like something
that stuck to her
while she was swimming.

I can’t take my eyes off it.

I’m up all night
full of hope and
despair; death
is openended
life is terminal.

I’m going to be
a better citizen
of myself.

Is life the pole
death the crosspole?

the paddle?


Rain Dance

More often than not, it’s a safe bet to write yourself
in nature. The human tree. Because the Internet is a
Ouija board. I just lost a growth ring browsing online
vitamins. Window shopping like a bird flying at the
same glass a hundred times on a single morning, as dazed
as a football player.



The nasturtiums fold
from frost
like little round

People have always
wanted to be
like other people.

Let the grouplove,
let the corps
lie still
in shivasana.

It’s crazy. Everybody
is so overwhelmed
and anemic.
The nasturtiums
are bloodless now.

Tomorrow is a celebrity,
yesterday a black hole,

the virtue of the present
moment is one more myth and
winter, you folktale.

Kirstin Allio’s novel, Garner (Coffee House), was a finalist for the LA Times Book Prize for First Fiction. She has received the National Book Foundation’s 5 Under 35 Award, a PEN/O.Henry Prize, and published short stories and essays in many fine magazines. She recently won the Dzanc Short Story Collection Competition and her collection, Clothed, Female Figure will come out with Dzanc in 2016. She lives in Providence, RI.