Shining Rock Poetry Anthology

"Living in an Old Flower Shop," & "In My Kitchen in Atlanta" by Karen Head

Living in an old flower shop

is not the most eccentric thing
I've ever done,
not really even a conscious choice
just the sort of happenstance
poverty sometimes offers.
I was twenty-two, worked three jobs,
but on Sunday afternoons
could walk a quarter mile
down a gravel road
to visit my grandparents,
sit on their porch, drink sweet tea,
eat Little Debbie oatmeal pies.
The poet me wants to turn all this
into metaphor, some
exceptional conceit,
but I don't remember much
about those two years,
just the empty cooler turned closet,
the broken bedroom window that sliced
my right palm from pinky to thumb,
and nightmares of chrysanthemums.


In My Kitchen in Atlanta
for Allen Ginsberg

You do like to surprise.
So, the mornings I stumble
into the kitchen,
unprepared even to put on
the kettle, much less
face the day, only to discover
your naked body, contorting
in what you swear are Tai Chi moves,
I grapple with your eccentricities
which push beyond the surreal,
beyond the sublime,
beyond what anyone should submit
to before the sun rises.
This I could live with, Allen.
But when you begin to lose focus,
criticize my bathrobe,
scold me for eating bacon,
mock me for not writing
something important each day,
I want to tell you to take it up
with the universe--except
I know you will,
and, ultimately, I'll read some line
you wrote years before my birth
and I will feel the reproach
meant for those you knew
would be inclined to listen.
Nevertheless, you are always welcome here.
Try not to step on the cats.

Karen Head's most recent book is Lost on Purpose (Iris Press, 2019). She also creates digital poetry. She is an Associate Professor at Georgia Tech, the Editor of Atlanta Review, and the Poet Laureate of Waffle House.

Loose Muse Anthology of New Writing by Women, Volume 1. "Living in an Old Flower Shop."
Starry Rhymes: 85 Years of Allen Ginsberg. "In My Kitchen in Atlanta."

Lost on Purpose. Iris Press, 2019.  Poems reprinted with the permission of the author. 

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