Poem of the Day: “Self-Portrait as a Door” by Donika Kelly


Donika Kelly’s debut collection, Bestiary, was an extremely notable release from 2016; longlisted for the National Book Award, the collection operates as a collection of creatures, refusing clear definition in favor of fluid identification that reaches out with stretched hands to pull everything in and let everything flow out, be it in blood or song. We eagerly await whatever comes next in this poet’s career.

Self-Portrait as a Door

All the birds die of blunt force trauma—
of barn of wire of YIELD or SLOW
CHILDREN AT PLAY. You are a sign
are a plank are a raft are a felled oak.
You are a handle are a turn are a bit
of brass lovingly polished.
What birds what bugs what soft
hand come knocking. What echo
what empty what room in need
of a picture a mirror a bit of paint
on the wall. There is a hooked rug
There is a hand hard as you are hard
pounding the door. There is the doormat
owl eye patched by a boot by a body
with a tree for a hand. What roosts
what burrows what scrambles
at the pound. There is a you
on the other side, cold and white
as the room, in need of a window
or an eye. There is your hand
on the door which is now the door
pretending to be a thing that opens.

(via Tupelo Quarterly)

Kyle Williams is a student at Brooklyn College, studying creative writing and literature. You can find more from him on Tumblr at kaywhyelleee.tumblr.com, but don't feel like you have to. More from this author →