Issue > Poetry
Kai Carlson-Wee

Kai Carlson-Wee

Kai Carlson-Wee is the author of Rail (BOA Editions). His work has appeared in Ploughshares, New England Review, Best New Poets, AGNI, and The Missouri Review. A former Wallace Stegner Fellow, he lives in San Francisco and teaches poetry at Stanford University.

Poet at Twenty-Four


In those days the wind seemed to whittle me down
to the root. Round off my fingers as if I were some
piece of glass in the evening sea. If you saw me
at the grocery store picking through fruit,
my backpack hanging behind,
eyes gone slack as a turned-off TV at the Radio Shack
in the mall, testing the peaches and ripe avocados,
scratching the skin of a grapefruit
for luck, you would barely have noticed
the hawk's foot necklace I wore on a copper
electrical wire, the ribbon of foil I glued to my beanie
to block out invisible low-wave rays.
If you saw me at a coffeeshop watching the crowd,
scribbling notes on a wrinkled receipt,
you would never have noticed yourself in those words,
but you would be there still,
in the softest rhyme, in streetlight spilling across
your empty cup. You would be the simple
wish of mist, the unnamable music that kept me alive,
even after you turned to forget who I was
and left through the automatic doors.

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