Two Poems by Devin Kelly





When she said whaddyawant
I guess I figured they don’t serve coffee
in Canada. I dunno why. Tea

seems more Canadian, less
of a commitment to anything that’ll
get you more fucked than you are.

So, tea & a plateful of scrambled eggs
& I thought they’d bring me ketchup
in a jar. They didn’t. It was Heinz

& I was scared, kept checking
my shoulder for my brother, half-wishing
he’d be there to cuff me back home

like a stray dog. But I know I’m
as good as forgotten, a cloud made blue again
by wind & sun. I know I can eat

slowly now, but I still wolf my grub
even when I’m not hungry. I’ve ruined
so much I don’t wanna lose what’s

right in front of me. I sat & asked
for coffee in my cup of tea & then added cream
& then drove for miles on the highway

that ran along one of the Great Lakes,
looking to my left as I swerved. Somewhere
across that made bed of water & feathers

fallen from the gulls was a house, I knew.
Joey might be there wondering
or he might not. I got so much

I’m still trying to figure out. Look
at the sky. It’s so big & so full of color.
Imagine if it fell. Imagine if it hurt.



When we woke & realized there was nothing
to do, we went to Denny’s, sat each to a booth.

I ordered coffee that drank & refilled itself
& watched my father sip a Coke through a straw

while we ate eggs slowly, without speaking.
If I could tell you more, I would, but there was

still nothing but the ringing clink of fork on plate
& from the kitchen, a chatter above the hissing.

Younger, I read books that said things like:
a man’s eyes can hold stories, you just have to look —

but underneath the dewy film of eye is just
a cloud, & behind that, a nerve, & through that

travel signals of depth & light & color
& you can spend a lifetime looking at a man’s

dilations & never know anything but how quiet
he keeps what is his. I barely know my father

well enough to eulogize his passing, but the story
is not just in the silence of his eating. No. See us

at a Denny’s in Lansing. See the way he holds
his fork tightly & slides one spear through the yolk

so as not to lose too much too quickly & how
he cuts the white of egg into little squares

& moves them slowly toward his mouth.
Something must inform all of this. See how

I don’t ask. It’s what’s here that’s important –
how cheap the food is & how the coffee

keeps coming & how I could sit here forever
with my father. There’s nothing out there

that concerns me. It’s his slow & patient eating,
the way he holds his fork, his slight smile, his silence.


Devin Kelly earned his MFA from Sarah Lawrence College and co-hosts the Dead Rabbits Reading Series in New York City. He is the author of the collaborative chapbook with Melissa Smyth, This Cup of Absence (Anchor & Plume) and the forthcoming collection, In This Quiet Church of Night, I Say Amen (ELJ Publications). He is working now on a collection of poems inspired by Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska. He has been nominated for both the Pushcart and Best of the Net Prizes. He works as a college advisor in Queens, teaches poetry at Bronx Community College, and lives in Harlem. You can find him on twitter @themoneyiowe.