Halee Kirkwood




I saw my father only in neutral         

space, once the lighthouse

with no light where he carved my mother’s name

in concrete threw rocks


at rallies of seagulls furious as monster trucks

threaten to jump

from the boardwalk bared gap teeth at his own

churned reflection

confusing everyone for my mother, the tremble


between iron and water he climbed to prove

it was his, wrestled

the sun down to us where it’d rather die

unconcerned with bird’s


gossip, he laughed when I accidently struck

a toddler behind me

with a mini-golf club, kicked the nuts

out of a teenager who knocked


my little sister down for her Halloween candy,

and evacuated

a movie theatre during Fellowship of the Ring

shouting that the eye of Sauron


looks just like pussy everyone wonders

how I got so timid

and where I secret these stories of the villain

who drank laundry detergent


thinking it was a 40 oz. before he died,

strong enough

to dangle from the span of steel rising

above the harbor,


but there’s no reconciling smallness

when it meant nothing

to him, not even his own,

latticed and shot through              with sun.

Elegy for My Morbidity



The year of my waking

I sat with the leather tanner

in our yard, a morgue


of overgrown burdock

and nettle, taboo

as it is to not gag


among rot—he was the town lunatic,

browning deer skin with the deer’s

own brains, but I was happy


to sit with his conscious

and the road kill’s salvaged death,

so unlike when you stuck


a twig in a struck fawn’s eye,

whooping like you’d just planted

a flag on the moon, but then


again you are everywhere,

most every man I know becomes king

of tin cans, and later the tanner


forgot a deer in the basement

our summer of floods, tufts of fur swirling

around the poor, wasted body—a rough


and yellow medicine.


HALEE KIRKWOOD is a descendant of the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe and a current MFA student at Hamline University. Their work has been published or is forthcoming in Muzzle Magazine, ctrl+v, Grimoire Magazine, Cream City Review, and others. Kirkwood was selected as a teaching fellow for the 2019 Desert Nights, Rising Stars writing conference at Arizona State University.