May 2007

Karen Harryman


Karen Harryman's poems have appeared in Alaska Quarterly Review, Los Angeles Review, Poetry New Zealand, and other journals. Her first book of poetry, Auto Mechanic's Daughter, is forthcoming with Akashic Books. Before moving to Los Angeles with her husband, Kirker, she lived and worked in Kentucky for most of her life. She teaches creative writing at YULA, an orthodox Jewish girls' high school.

Bourbon Fire    

Every few years, lightning found a wooden storehouse
of one distillery or another in that green pocket of Kentucky
where the world's whiskey is made,
where I learned to swirl bourbon in a glass,
taste a coffee finish, learned to tell time
by the smell of sour mash in the air.

Heaven Hill burned for days.
We'd watch from the grocery store parking lot
for spikes of flame through smoke, never close enough
to see what the volunteers described, the barrels full, aflame,
blown-out stories of gray timber cascading down to the river,
the catfish and bluegill straining to breathe
beneath the bourbon slick.

I've forgotten everything else.
Spent most evenings with Bobbie Jo Curd
draining beers, shooting pool, throwing darts,
flirting with truck drivers and college boys,
driving home with the top down, long scarves wrapped around our heads,

iced Makers & Cokes sweating between our thighs.
We were ablaze as you might have been, hours between work and waking
when all you wanted was a piece of the life you'd dreamed of
or all but ruined—what you had coming
because you were good,
because you were beautiful, spilling all you knew.



Karen Harryman: Poetry
Copyright ©2007 The Cortland Review Issue 35The Cortland Review