Kerry Gilbert

< Back | TOC | Next >


her dead husband still speaks to her
pounds on her chest, grips her neck
and says—you’re next

ur oma laughs a whole body laugh
even though she doesn’t understand
her mother passes the rotkohl

youngest grandchild races the length
of the set table, swipes a sugared plum
from the uncut kuchen at her elbow

she doesn’t know who is actually here
familiar mouths eat and speak a mix
of english and german so thick, she thinks

she can see the words join and ascend
thinks she can climb them, over the food
over the table top, up toward a clouded sky

“the backdrop of normalcy”
he owes me a box of tampons
because his cat pissed all over them

(of course it did). i’ve been staying
at his place for a while
(of course

you have). because this doesn’t seem
strange at all—a student-child in a

man-teacher’s house—not in this world
where some men stuff oversized tongues

in our mouths on dates we don’t
even know we are on. (no, thanks

i’ve already had tongue today)
and the only slap he gets

is on the back. atta boy. atta boy
what do we do with this? this

obscene anthropocene. this, death
state. cheque please—i’ll pay

i feel like i’d like to say no, thanks
where would you like me to fuck you

but i’d rather say no. thank. you
how about here, on this spot

on the forest floor where trees used to grow
in a time when there appeared to be

a natural progression of things—
before we invented man

the man with the madonna-whore-complex
clearly charts out his desire on the constellation

of posters mapping his walls—raunchy women
arched, hard, curved women, wet and shamed

in bikinis that are almost not even there—dirty
—needs a spanking from her, but not to be

the one to plant the real seeds in, the one whose
breasts will leak out milk in a puddle on the floor

with a body that grows soft and pleated by birth
while she unquestionably clears solid hand towels

from his ‘cave’ wallpapered in pin-ups of his world
and uses extra fabric softener, to add to his comfort


Kerry Gilbert grew up in the Okanagan. She has lived on Vancouver Island, in South Korea, and in Australia. She now lives back in the valley, where she teaches Creative Writing at Okanagan College and raises her three children. Her first book of poetry, (kerplnk): a verse novel of development, was published in 2005 with Kalamalka Press. Her second book of poetry, Tight Wire, was published in 2016 with Mother Tongue Publishing. Most recently she won the Gwendolyn MacEwen Poetry Award for Best Suite by an Emerging Writer 2016/2017. The suite is the core of a new verse manuscript called Little Red, which will be published with Mother Tongue Publishing in Spring 2019. Kerry is co-founder of Spoke Literary Festival,, a celebration of writers in and around the Okanagan. She also runs writing workshops for teens, called Story Makers, Story Makers is a mentorship program that helps young writers find their voice and confidence.