The Boiler

Kenzie Allen

LETTERS I DON’T SEND #1

Let me remind you of who I once was
when we met: my arms with their blood

in its right place, the path of my fingers
unaltered. In the photographs I smile

all the way to my eyebrows. Hadn’t
rusted out my own voice box, hadn’t lived

on enough floors to really know comfort,
knew nothing, clean as a suburb

with its spiked fences, automatic gate.


LETTERS I DON’T SEND #2

She had decided at last to become
the villain. Floor-grasping sequinned

lamé on offer in Joanne’s bargain bin,
smoke bombs handy in the basement

where he’d left his stash of pyrotechnics
and an empty plastic whiskey jug,

even the crows seemed cooperative,
now drawn to the shine of her malice.

Her fingernails sharp. Narcissistic
and manipulative, weren’t those your

exact words? She becomes her own
reflection. She asks her reflection

what’s fair. 


LETTERS I DON’T SEND #7

How you were doing things
for you now, how for once
in your life it was time to be

selfish, as though you had
never done such a thing
before. How you couldn’t

think of anyone but the one
who would carry you as
you would carry you, as if

saving this sapling would
spontaneously engender
a forest. And the forest

grew thick in ugly days,
evolved thorns, all the wrong
enchantments. A forest of

you, every twisted form
a bad memory, and I
become the thistles,

the needled carpet,
the scrap of red plucked
by such hands—such

greedy, sidelong branches—
the castoff, forest leavings,
the lungs and the liver
so taken.

_______________________________

Kenzie Allen is a descendant of the Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin, and a graduate of the Helen Zell Writers’ Program at the University of Michigan. She lives in Norway when she’s not at home in Oneida/Green Bay, was born in West Texas, and tumbleweed around with frequency. Her work has appeared in Sonora Review, The Iowa Review, Drunken Boat, Word Riot, Apogee, SOFTBLOW, The Puritan, and elsewhere, and she is a managing editor of the Anthropoid collective.