A Journal

"I'm going to come back to West Virginia when this is over. There's something ancient and deeply-rooted in my soul. I like to think that I have left my ghost up one of those hollows, and I'll never really be able to leave for good until I find it. And I don't want to look for it, because I might find it and have to leave".----Breece D'J Pancake, in a letter to his mother. 

Katie Mertz




they find her 

lay bags of mulch

inside her sundress 

and bury her back in


the lovesick children

pluck her lashes 

pedal away

and after long


she is only roots 

a lost evolution

to lick like 

a handprint left 


around a small neck 

rub lips against 

like a grater 

to soft cheese


next year

she will surface

with a prick

the sun


will be quiet

the stars

dead upon 

reaching her



I will preface by saying this is actually kind of morbid. The souvenir came from my grandparents' house: a blue, glass bird. It fits in my hand, but it's heavy. When they died, we sold the house, of course, and on that last day there when we were packing, I took it. My grandma sold Avon, and I think that's where it was from. I keep the bird on my desk now, and it sort of acts like a tie between my past and present, a reminder of heritage and love, of the two of them. And also, poetry is mostly birds, right?

Katie Mertz is a Poetry Editor for Whiskey Island and Assistant Poetry Editor for Phantom Limb Press. When she is not doing those things, she is co-curating the BIG BIG MESS Reading Series and making noise at the Cleveland State University Poetry Center. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Ilk, Toad le Journal, Banango Street, Birdfeast & others. Her poem "This is How to Be Good" was nominated for a 2014 Pushcart Prize. She lives in Akron, Ohio.