Katie Condon

Katie Condon has received fellowships from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference and Inprint. Her recent poems appear in or are forthcoming from The Adroit Journal, Indiana Review, New Ohio Review, and elsewhere. Katie is working toward a PhD in Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Tennessee, where she serves as a poetry editor for Grist Journal.






Standing on the deck, mid-rain, I watch
the wind rouse the pines, their needles brittle

& thirsty. Earlier, instead of saying
“penis,” the professor with three degrees

demanded I say “phallus” in our discussion
of Othello & I know I am being obvious

when I say these pines are phallic,
that they could be God’s

dick pressing hard into the earth
some believe he continues to make new

but I’ve already said it—forgive me.
Dear God, this is not a prayer:

penis dick cock balls

The pines are writhing.

penis dick cock balls

What good is the wind, what good
is my mouth, if I am only allowed
to name politely?

Even God shouts:
Penis dick cock balls!

The rain falls all over his face
& you can’t tell him that isn’t

God, your silhouette is smooth
& slender on the curtains.

penis dick cock balls

Dear God, come to bed
while rain slips through the sky’s sieve

& the birds flit around that wetness
like tongues.

penis dick cock balls

This is not a prayer.

This is wind, this is pine bending breathless
into the wetness night sheds—

penis dick cock balls
penis dick cock balls

—my voice, a little
God crudely sculpted.



To Every Woman Who’s Been Kept a Secret


I’m talking about you, Laurel.
About Saturday night when it took your boyfriend
5 hours and 6 beers to bring you up.

Laurel, I don’t know where you are, but at the bar
your name spilled from his mouth like moonlight across the creek
I initially hoped he and I’d wade naked into.

What else could I do but think of you somewhere in this same night
laughing, maybe dancing, and as unaware as I was
that the other of us existed. The worst part, Laurel,

is I can’t bring myself to blame him—
it’s easy to say secrecy is bred by lust, but believe me
lust has little to do with it.

We’re all bored, Laurel. I am, aren’t you?

On Saturday night, your boyfriend kept you secret
so I could be a pawn he moved
across his board of “In Another Life.”

In his other life, Laurel, you are a nun in love with Brad Pitt,
and I am the fountain the penny’s thrown into,
and he is a bachelor with a bottle of bourbon and a waterbed.

In another life, he is smoking cigars on a yacht in Shanghai.
Or he is a lion eluding his hunter. Or he is Lenny Kravitz
feeling sexy, if lonely, in his leather. He wants to be the falcon

at rest in the cedar. He wants to be the falconer
alone in the field. He wants to believe he is a martyr
in his real life—that we are the hay the fire flares up from.

And so what if we are? Laurel, so what if we’re the flame
that makes him scream? I say it’s all to the good. Let him burn
with the whole world watching. It’s what he doesn’t know

he wants—to be worthy of something fiercer than he is.
Of a woman’s fire. Of the affection we have for him
even as we reach up and wrap his bones in our heat.


Mid-March Ode


It’s like lifting a middle finger to death

the way moss remains insistently plush
on the rocks snow sheathed this winter.

There are few things that bring me more joy
than watching our reaper sob, having lost

his bet for the billionth year in a row. Although,
it’s only a matter of time before death rallies

& marches up onto the porch of the home
I’ve made of my body, seeking reward elsewhere.

I have not always been resilient.
If twenty-six years old were a season

it’d be the time of year cardinals trill
and I grow bored of the one I love.

It’d be the time of year the paraplegic dogwood
blooms on its left side & congratulates me

for joining it in chronic pain.
The number of times I parceled out

the pills it’d take to kill me
doesn’t matter. It is March 16, 2016

& I am alive—on the bank of the creek
behind the old saw mill, moss grows

on the bumper of an abandoned Buick.
From here, it is impossible to see

the crumb-small purple flowers
lounging on their green pelt, but I can hear them

in chorus with the creek, celebrating each
breath of the carcass that is alive

long after we’ve found use for it.

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