Rose Kelleher is an American poet. She was born in Trenton, grew up on the South Shore of Massachusetts, then lived in Boston
for several years before moving to Maryland and marrying a transplanted
Bostonian. She majored in English at UMass Boston and has worked as a technical writer and programmer,
four computer books and numerous technical articles. Since rediscovering poetry,
she has published poems and essays in a variety of journals, including Anon,
Atlanta Review, The Dark Horse and Verse Daily. Her first poetry collection,
Bundle o’ Tinder, was awarded the 2007 Anthony Hecht Poetry Prize by judge
Richard Wilbur and is available from Waywiser Press. Her second poetry book,
Native Species, was self-published. She has also written a novel and a
handful of literary essays. She has a poetry website:
I Have a Crush on the Devil
I have a crush on the devil, teehee!
It’s wrong, but those horns just do something to me,
that little mustache, the seductive goatee.
I’ve got a crush on Beelzebub, dash it!
That arrow-tipped tail of his has such panache; it
would make a nice whip. I like watching him thrash it.
I’ve got a longing for Lucifer, darn it!
There’s something about all that Evil Incarnate,
his naked red skin like a shimmering garnet.
I’ve got a school-girlish thing for Hell’s King,
infernal, eternally barbecuing!
The respectable angels just haven’t his zing.
Published in Light Quarterly
The saddest songs are those that drip
like sweat down the sides of a lemonade pitcher.
Sing me a drink about money gone missing,
serve it up tart with a hillbilly twist:
the bitterer the better, to make the mouth pucker
and gather up the slack.
The saddest songs are those that burn
black as a match and a bundle o’ tinder.
Kindle a ditty on daddy gone drifting,
wind it around with a pennywhistle riff;
slowly unroll each note, dark
as smoke from a chimney stack.
The saddest songs are those that fade
like footprints over Siberian tundra.
Shiver the strings of a welcome winter,
shovel it under, drumbeat deep;
naked and bleak as the trees of Tunguska,
laid out back to back.
Published in Anon
The demo had gone well.
Still talking shop, we walked to our hotel
through thinning crowds, down the uneven street,
sweltering in Beijing’s mid-August heat
as evening fell.
Tomorrow we’d be gone,
these bustling people, these bewildering signs
a dreamscape disappearing with the dawn.
We’d live in English, stab our food with tines,
forget, move on.
A woman, small and thin,
tapped me and said something in Mandarin
I couldn’t understand. A sleeping child
lay draped across her chest. I stammered, smiled,
then feeling left behind
hurried away to catch up with the rest,
failing an unexpected litmus test.
We stopped for cocktails, eager to unwind
with our own kind.
My father’s heart
is on the phone
to some machine
his data stream,
my mother says
Published in Lucid
By thinking—up, back, swivel to the right—
a Rhesus brain controls a robot’s arm
over a wireless channel; while tonight
you keep me warm
under the covers with your fevered skin,
hairy as any ape. In either case
an impulse jumps a synapse; dreams begin
to take up space
in ways that bodies do. The high-pitched whine
of monkey-driven metal switching gears,
the interlocking of your legs with mine,
are just ideas
telegraphed into things: thoughts that stray
from gray matter to motor, leaving grooves
of memory that run whichever way
the spirit moves.
Published in Anon
Rays at Cape Hatteras
The cownose rays are showing off today.
They flip themselves like flapjacks over pans
of Carolina surf, and when one lands,
the splat reverberates a mile away.
Sometimes you see the backs of their whale-gray
pectoral fins, outstretched like flipper-hands;
or else they show their bellies as they dance,
white slabs with grins carved out, as if from clay.
In great outlays of energy, they burst
through breakers, moved by some instinctive wish
to flounder in the air. Their flight is brief
and clumsy, evolution having cursed
these would-be herons with the flesh of fish:
rude fliers in the face of disbelief.
Published in The Eleventh Muse
Even Bruce Lee had nipples. They were small,
but they were there all right, alive with nerves,
a tender nub to guard each pectoral
against the manly world. And he had curves,
gracing the line of cheek and lip, of thigh
and buttock. Man would be too hard, too fierce,
if there weren’t certain spots on every guy
vulnerable enough to pinch or pierce;
pretty enough to make a priest believe
that every Adam shares a rib with Eve;
engendered softly as a question mark,
for seven weeks a shrimplike, whitish curl
of possibility, still in the dark,
before his body learns he’s not a girl.
Published in 14 by 14