Rumpus Original Poetry: Three Poems by Kary Wayson





The Slip

Think of it

like this—a poem is a room into which we
Enter. Each object is deliberately placed.
We put the wooden bird on the top shelf,
A jade plant on the windowsill, a huge lamp
In the corner. Then, happily, that’s enough.
We brush our hands and turn away.

Next day we go into the room again.
The bird looks down at us from the shelf.
The lamp is ridiculous in the corner.
But inside the open window there hangs from a hook
The thin white slip we mended with scissors.

It turns a bit, this way and that.
The delicate straps are a little yellow.
We can think of it here as an emblem
Of a friend, someone whose quiet keeps us

Now from the valley comes the howling of a dog.
Otherwise, only the knitting click of the slip
On its hanger. She’s better than us, slender
And blameless. She moves in the waves
hair makes around a face in a dream
of the sea. Look—

Right here she hangs in full sight
Of heaven. And the lone man on the new roof across the yard—
Now he appears here in the poem’s room.
Try not to make that mistake.


Extra Extra Ordinary Clouds

Took off my shoes & stepped into the mid-modern blue.
Did it because he wanted me

Wandered through the empty park, found a button—
pushed it. Pushed it pushed it pushed

Each time it
made something like a chirp. Something slowly past us

Over the city a great event was taking place—
another famous painting of beautiful

Lush (luscious) thick (lit) and rich (silverly lined)
the sudden shifts of (shafts of)

changed my mind with sleights of color, then sugar
changed my mind a

Which summer bird makes that wonderful chirp?
Learning it’s a robin disappoints us every year.

right here is not a record of a place
but a feeling it’ll


A Misunderstanding

Thursday. The light
as January has it. A bowl of small oranges
in the window for the gray. The downstairs neighbor
plays scales on her fiddle while Brian
chops an apple directly on the table.
Such fine sharp cuts he makes on the table
that I too want to play the scales.

In my mind I can see the stand of trees across the street.
The fiddle saws up and down. When it stops
they collapse like cups

into circumference.
A crow smokes a Cheeto in the cold dead grass.


Photograph of Kary Wayson by Brian Weiss.

Kary Wayson is the author of three poetry books—Dog & Me (LitRag Press, 2004), American Husband (Ohio State University Press, 2009), and Via Maria Materi (Burnside Review Press, forthcoming in 2019). Her poems have appeared in Crazyhorse, The Nation, Narrative, FIELD, and others, including the Best American Poetry and Pushcart Prize anthologies. A 2012 Stranger Genius Award nominee, Kary was writer-in-residence at Hugo House from 2013-2015. She lives and works as a freelance editor in Seattle, WA. More from this author →