Kyle Potvin

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the poet

Kyle Potvin is an American poet whose debut full-length poetry collection, Loosen, appeared in 2021. Her chapbook, Sound Travels on Water, won the Jean Pedrick Chapbook Award. Kyle's poems have featured in Bellevue Literary Review, Tar River Poetry, Rattle, Ecotone, The New York Times and elsewhere.

the poems

Do You Know Pain?

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                                    The slice of the knife

                                    The rock to the head

                                    The blow to the eye


                                    The lumbar puncture

                                    That spinal tap

                                    The mistaken try


                                    Or perhaps

                                    The prenatal jarring

                                    Pushing and bearing

                                    Perineal tearing


                                    The prick of the needle

                                    Poison-plumped veins

                                    White sores in the mouth

                                    Cold fog in the brain


                                    Then the burn of the beam

                                    For thirty-three days

                                    Day after day

                                    The high-energy rays


                                    Did you turn

                                    Up your eyes

                                    Write words in your mind

                                    Tap beats on your thighs

                                    To distract and deny


                                    Then return to this earth

                                    Forgetting it happened

                                    The aching and bruising

                                    The bleeding and writhing

                                    For the scarring is healing

                                    The hurting subsiding


                                    The hunger returns

                                    Tomato salted and ripe

                                    The slip of the finger

                                    The slice of the knife

Mysteries of the Corn

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            Your priest of 20 years retires.

            Then your hairdresser.


            Elephants become sacred

            and the circus leaves town forever.


            Even the only queen you've known is blue,

            wearing sapphires from her dead father.


            Loss is the corn

            on your door:


            16 rows

            800 kernels.


            You finger each

            like a rosary bead:


                        Hail Mary Mother of Yours

                        lost in plaques and tangles.


                        Glory Be to Your Father, livelihood

                        lost to her care.


                        Hail Holy Queen, watch over the teen shot near the corner

                        and for the other who died of (conjecture).


                        Our Father, remember the birch, lost to infestation,

                        and the road around the lake, no longer traveled.


            Each year, the husk dries,

            decays a bit more.


            But you hang it anyway,

            a totem to stubbornness.


            After all, an ear to the ground is useless.

            You know what's coming.

Sin

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            At eight years old, I dodged the sisters' eyes:

            ate my sandwich, then donned a saintly face,

            walked out the gate, past church and up the rise

            toward Horn's Variety, that mythic place.

            The path was new to me. I walked alone

            and genuflected to inspect a sheared-

            off branch, a mica fleck, a swallow's bone.

            I used a stick to write DAM HELL; then cleared

            away the words. Dust pleated in my skirt.

            I felt a breath unloosen in my chest,

            expanding, fearless in this wondrous dirt

            of disobedience, this fresh unrest.

            The church bells rang. I rose, denied the call.

            Picked freedom, sin, a red-hot fireball.

Publishing credits

All poems: Loosen (Hobblebush Books)