Keegan Lester

brca1 is a human tumor suppressor gene

brca1 is a human tumor suppressor gene, which produces a protein called breast cancer type one. it once stood for berkeley, california where perhaps two lovers in stiff vanilla pressed lab coats, living months on chinese take-out and bad cafeteria food, went from lab to bedroom to lab until they discovered what this translated. one must have turned to the other like the driftwood lapping against the shore forty miles away, needing something to land upon after having been lost at sea too long, and said: look at the variation, at the movement.

to all of this which does not just seem

to all of this which does not just seem, but is extraordinary. to a time when extraordinary was a thief machine. to the thief machine & the small hands needed to operate that machine. to the hands of children that adults go to when they lose something. to the unbroken thinking of children. to the something foreign, the feral, to the different ways light breaks against the faces my mother catalogs: always growing, fig not far from the branch.

to the tin band that read: keegan matthew lester

to the tin band that read: keegan matthew lester, 21841 seacrest lane, huntington beach california, eader elementary, the one with a brontosaurus imprint on the top: to the man who told me to believe in what we could not see, and called it science, before telling us they were mistaken. to the letter i received from science a few years back: we here at science want to apologize. we had our own misgivings, but wanted to see how it would play out. we are sorry about your brontosaurus. there were cartoons & movies & books, we were too late to call it off. museums were doing well. people could look at the scale of our hyperbole for the first time & understand the way we love. we literally made a skeleton of hyperbole, to teach you to dream again. museums kept their lights on, due to things we made up. we got adults to make up stories for children to explain the feasibility of something so large & terrifying & confusing, that only ate plants, that only a comet could have killed. vegetarians loved us in the 90’s. now we sell drugs & will be in business for a long time. would you like some drugs? also, pluto: not real. sorry about that too. we grew tired of discovering. we wanted to create things too, just this one time. we wanted to know what it would feel like to paint rooms for an afternoon. sorry. sincerely, science. to the prayer science and i wrote together: god rid me of god. god help me give up credibility today, so that i might be able to make something for someone else.


Keegan Lester is an American poet. His work is published in The Journal, Cutbank, Boaat, The Atlas Review, Powderkeg, Tinderbox, Adroit Journal and Blunderbuss among others and has been been featured on NPR and Coldfront. His manuscript “We Both Go Together If One Falls Down” was a finalist for the 2016 Georgia Poetry Prize. He is the Cofounder and Poetry editor of the journal Souvenir Lit. He splits time between New York City and Morgantown, West Virginia. Find out more about him at or follow him on twitter at @keeganmlester or on instagram at kml2157.