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Katy Richey

About the Poet

Katy Richey’s work has appeared in Rattle, Fjords Review, Little Patuxent Review, The Offing and other journals.

Her manuscript Into the Bluest Part received an honorable mention for the 2015 Cave Canem Poetry Prize.

She is the recipient of a 2015 Fine Arts Work Center Walker Scholarship for Writers of Color and a 2014 Maryland State Arts Council individual artist award for poetry.

She co-edited the February 2011 issue of Beltway Poetry Quarterly: A Tribute to Langston Hughes and hosts the Sunday Kind of Love reading series open mic at Busboys and Poets in Washington D.C., sponsored by Split This Rock.


Spring 2016 »

What the Dead Do

A daughter planned her sister’s birthday.
A lawyer laid out clothes for the morning.
Lovers painted the room in the back of the house.

I organized bank statements, left instructions
for my father. For my mother, whose heart
would collapse, I left nothing.

Walk to the basement, hang the rope,
move the chair, plan the party, watch
the sunrise, or watch it set.

Daniel turned in his science project.
Jessica went to war. And came back.
Eric and Dylan shot 29 people.

A woman wrote a letter to a friend
who would miss her. A father made breakfast.
A teenager rode his skateboard in the dark.



Tell All the Truth

This is illness––a shard of glass
in the wet throat, small
as a fruit fly’s wing––its soft
tenor of frenzy. Awake,
I am stagnant, my body
a slow flood. When I sleep,
it’s a squall.

The evening I wore my shoes
into the ocean, it lured me
like a barbed troller’s line.
How I rested there
in the belly of moving sand,
how the water crooned,
how my body released,
how I urged the darkness.




I fear them in the afternoon. I fear them playing
in the park or walking home, shuffling their sneakers
on concrete, across lawns. I fear them lounging.

I fear them waiting for buses, eyes half closed,
wires sprouting from their bodies. I fear their odd
symbols scrawled on benches, on skin, on anything

that holds ink. I fear them on trains, crowded
into last cars. I fear their strange noises,
like mammals making love.

I fear them at dinner tables, pushing vegetables
with their fingers, refusing to inventory the day.
I fear them in groups, small herds of indecisive

hair and awkward clothing. I fear others who
fear them too, clutching handbags, scanning
security mirrors, whispering short prayers.

But, mostly I fear their leaving,
the stillness of their absence, the empty desks,
the open window, abandoned papers––
all I must rebuild for their return.



I Think of Us

.....................––for Jonas

He’s probably six.
She’s four, maybe five––

He’s carrying a bucket
of soil and rock
over to the spot
where they’re building
a fort or a castle.
She has wings
pinned to the back
of her sweater
and a handful
of leaves.

His socks are pulled up
to the middle of his calves.
Her palms are muddied
from where she stuck them
in the watered dahlia bed.

He is singing a song
he’s made up,
or they did together.
There’s an orange cat
in the grass
by the gate.

Someday, the best parts of them
will be memories of this.

Over their shoulders,
evening approaches.
The sun,
a cauldron of red––
so desperate
to fall.



Katy Richey ~


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