Five Poems by Karen Leona Anderson

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Ladybug, Ladybug ($26.50 Mama Goose)

Oh, get the coat, cute; the hat,
which matches; sock, shoe over it; baby,
mom over it; father, with it; supersized,
heart with clean holes; house, with walls,
star stencil; yellow, to paint them;
windows, with sealant; candy pink, in the walls;
a farm theme; a farm around it;
from the home store, orangey, you doll,
you split wing, you beetle; you undomestic;
you invasive; replaceable; you mother;
boring, sentimental; your origin
exposed and your cute; all over.




Shut up—to hear the copper flip
of the bats’ hearts through

the air. In my flash, the warm
wings of them are dollars on

the market’s strings. I followed the, well,
best practice: silver gelatin

to augment my retirement
with photographs: the bats cheat

the swifts, fill the house we built

for swallows. It’s another, um, small
economy our kids discuss, well,

ungenerously. I tried to demonstrate
interest, saving, doing anything

at all. But it was always an endless

birthday what-do-you-want; I want it

not to rain when it’s—of course—raining.
And now the same old I hope I don’t

lose it all—right—today. Our foil

I shake and roll in the drawer. The photobooks—
Chartres, Notre Dame, inept, underlit—

are there. It’s patience—I say—that saved us.
From what. I’m waiting with my camera here

and no bats. The kids can’t—the phone cuts

into dinner, like the circus or church,
blaring, sequins—come they have to work. Then

they don’t call at all. Then the yard’s
a silvered blank as the moon comes up.

I’ve saved nothing. I want to bank
but I can’t in the warm vault of air

their wings I hope dark.




and stiff, we stalk the dead mall: Leaks
Galore, Bare Ruined Racks, Etcetera.

And Claire’s, of the cheap gold hoops of sun
and mouse-skull bracelets, frost cracked.

Still intact, the fungus lushly slotting
the Gaps; a Lotto of Cervine Molars; and bats

are soundproofing Rafters on shifts above
the Big Lost Lots. For us, the stainless

sale section is sparrowed, better now
for sex; for us, all weather is fine:

all is food court, all big echoey bathroom.
The sapling guts the floor’s plastic

tiles at Borders, the wind unplants
the plastic trees. The fountain writhes

with larvae, renovating the rain.




I know how from TV: declutter the ocean like a plastics drawer.
Stuff the poles back up with white stuffing;

you can use the cheap stuff. Then donate. The shelves should go
and shade the sun that makes a dry scar

of the stream and the riverbed. They just hold junk. You’ll need a new pump
to keep it going, a cord and a cover for the cord

to make the floor seamless now with the walls, so tack up
a fax of the woods you’ve used; bamboo and a random

pattern of cork tiles to draw the eye. Paint the brick and staple burlap
across the walls for a global feel. Add

sustainable mosquito netting to the bed and use the savings to go
for the Deluge Showerhead. Find the oil that is practically

fracturing your floor and sell it for some glued down, beautiful tile,
almost solar with heat. Cheap, if it holds. Disaster, if not. It’s simple:

if the bones of your house outgas, then coat the bones.  

Next, what. Get new bones.




after George Herbert

Tremble, everyone.
We all must die.

No matter how nice the day.
Further and further from

my body, I have grown large
with fashion, receded, fallen,

inverted the leg of mutton,
the melon, and the envelope sleeve,

thinned into my youthful parts,
a box of scattered sweets,

me; but also I die, a bat,
wings slimmed to paper

by Geomyces destructans—torpor

of the corporate—which may not
spare this part or self. But were

I not myself—my kids,
receipts—did I let myself

go—my sleeves, eats,

cells—might not
I give might not

it all unknit—a little—the kids

us— now—live—




Karen Leona Anderson is the author of Punish honey (Carolina Wren Press, 2009) and Receipt (Milkweed Editions, 2016). Her work has appeared in Colorado Review, Barrow Street, and The Best American Poetry 2012. She is an assistant professor of English at St. Mary’s College of Maryland.

Photo of abandoned shopping mall by Anna Tamila, courtesy Shutterstock. is the world’s first online journal of place, publishing a rich mix of literature, art, commentary, and design since 1998.