August 2008

Kathleen Hellen


Kathleen Hellen's work has appeared in Barrow Street, Nimrod, Prairie Schooner, RUNES, Southern Poetry Review, and other journals. Recent awards include the Washington Square Review and Thomas Merton poetry prizes. She is an editor for the Baltimore Review.


Tide Point in the bay;
the ducks aloft, gliding in the shimmer,
a mother and her chicks; a wind
picks up slightly as the water taxi launches

its last blow: one long leaving;
ports in Little Italy; the Fort—lighter than
the wind, the ghosts cavort:
captains, shanghaied boys; sweethearts

in their corsets or tattooed
like these young lovers kissing in the shadows
at the pier, holding on to
phantoms of each other, drunk on beer;

visitors to open air,
to streetlights quickening along the planks,
witnesses to tall ships,
tankers, houseboats in the slip: a world on the verge

of some distress.
A woman, for example, on the tipsy edge,
leaves the bar, casts off
on cobbled streets; inside herself

the compass. Did he mean it
when he said he'd take her in the dinghy?
If she had to, could she swim?  

One foot out,
the other; out where night is anchored:
out where night is vast, heaving.



Kathleen Hellen: Poetry
Copyright ©2008 The Cortland Review Issue 40The Cortland Review