Poem of the Week: Kyle McCord

Kyle McCord



A Guide to Falling Down Stairs



You’ll need dollar store flip-flops

the shabbier the better you’ll need


a black Glad bag a busted porchlight

you’ll want a fine char on the cutlets


so set the burner to high before you step

onto the porch listen to it simper


the cicadas fulmination like meat

spitting in cast iron they are mallets


planishing an unseen anvil you’ll want

to savor this because what follows


is hell descending elbow to cement

toenails wrenched on the rails


down to the frozen bottom and

nothing to do there but wail


to the one AM stars who might

have been regal but for this gash


you are Sisyphus shoving

the cumbersome boulder of your body


against the iron rail

what a relief somehow


to watch bruises fan out like ink on rice paper

finally a pain you can finger


think of your father miles away

a maze of cables and drips


his lungs swell with fluid no doctor

can show you can’t spoon out


and if you really listen they are not mallets

but a heart monitor that you measure


against your own and must somehow live

on rise up and ascend


Kyle McCord is the author of six books of poetry including National Poetry Series Finalist, Magpies in the Valley of Oleanders (Trio House Press 2016) and X-Rays and Other Landscapes (Trio House Press 2019). He has work featured in AGNI, Blackbird, Boston Review, The Gettysburg Review, The Harvard Review, The Kenyon Review, Ploughshares, TriQuarterly and elsewhere. He has received grants or awards from The Academy of American Poets, The Vermont Studio Center, and the Baltic Writing Residency. He serves as Co-Executive Editor of Gold Wake Press. He teaches at Drake University in Des Moines.

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