Poems by Karl Kirchwey






The parquet has become all sinks and man-traps,

deep-rutted by the feet of kitchen chairs.

The wagging tongue-and-groove laps-overlaps-

its generations of mismatched veneers.


The beveled oak moldings are fanged with nails

half drawn by the concussion of existence;

each saddle’s ridden up, under your footfalls,

which you counted as a firm threshold once.


The eggshell wall’s gone to maculate

moue and pucker; the cabinet door’s

top hinge is double-jointed, so that it

shows off just like a schoolboy during recess.


Still, for a few moments the westering sun

catches the window opposite and, glancing,

touches the butcher-block (its sealant gone)

and makes it glow in radiant oblong,


insisting that the ordinary be given its due,

the gimcrack habitude of every day.

Years pass, and things acquire a bias, and you-

so deep in life you did not notice-may


yet honor, from a kind of present exile,

this well-loved place in which no line is plumb;

or know it with leaving, since after all

to repair is also to be called home.



From: THE HAPPINESS OF THIS WORLD (G.P. Putman’s Sons, 2007)