Claire Kelly

PIYP 2017 header

“First the Children Stopped Asking for a Ride” by Claire Kelly
from the 2017 Poem in Your Pocket Day booklet

Based on Lisa Brown’s art project, Helios.

When you coat me with silver leaf

.              and loose me on the prairies

.             stripped of the faded-paint saddle

.                          that was all I knew of permanence.

.                          Mice in their soft nests heaved into the cold.

.             Wasp nests smoked and scraped out,

.             my head hollow as the bromides I tell myself.

What buzzes my core now, only wind.


I once thought the coins

.             in my jingle-jangle belly

.             were my comrades, but they never stayed,

.                          palmed hand to hand. Someone once

.                          stuck tasteless gum behind my left ear

.             like a kiss. Now that’s gone too.


.             What next, where bison ranged

and where the sun tries to sink

its silly-wolf teeth into me?

.             Where I’m empowered but untouched, play-

.             thing, now art. A finicky relic haunted

.                          by children’s boisterous voices.

.                          Rays bouncing off like whatever you say

.             bounces off meee and sticks to youuu?