Again: Holidays (Zuihitsu)
(Published in Gone Lawn)

If we name this in our heads, will it go away?

A nuanced term for redneck? I am a redneck divided by two. Here lies my tribe. I am redneck / hear me / video spy eyes / bionic ears. Quiet. Night watch. A coil.

The wound of holidays, dressed, then freshened by the reckless.

Uncles corner girls in garages, snorting lines from garage sale signs.
Jingle, jingle, jingle bell rock, out snaked his cock from his winter cutoffs.

Drunk, he slumped in the chair and dozed as guests adjusted their gaze.
Toss a blanket on it and ease the pretending, someone, anyone.

I’m dancing this ghost pen between you and me; I’ll write you into place as your face folds into your crane neck.

Snap, I take a shot for a future reality check, decades away.
She says she’s glad he’s asleep and afraid of what happens as the room petals bloom before his slit eyes.

Great grandfather gets falling-down smashed and lands on his head in the hall.
No one looks except the two girls who swipe blood from his creased head with Kleenex. How to get that man up. That sweet man. That drunk.

Invisibility is an option; they wonder how they developed this ability. They inhabit their own special language and identity outside the eyes and ears of others. Not intimacy. Something else. Ghosts among larger ghosts. Genies. Mystical smoke. See how they float. Tiny healers with Kleenex.

The sky is gray and the firewood casts its twin on the mossy, aluminum siding.
Dead brown leaves crunch underfoot; beneath, dormant creatures sleep.
Across the street, a colorless lake laps thick as tar over its mysteries.
Black-headed geese bob through its wreckage for something; for anything;
for hope.

Someone will test you, each year on this same day. If it hurts, its proof you love them. Everyone loses.



The Opt-Out Mother
(published in San Pedro River Review)



11-Month Post-Suicide Vacation Poem
(published in Isacoustic)

Day 1
1. Aspheric wide angle on the browned forest floor
2. Cabin musty of smells hanging
3. Harley women warped on wall poster—30s—both long dead
4. Man with short brush cut and beach-ball belly / fanny-packed in stars and stripes feigns straightness along the shoreline as his girl becomes one with driftwood
5. Dogs couldn’t pee there
6. Mammals couldn’t walk there
7. I was tolerated but paid no money to get in
8. I’m only partially a mammal and then, barely
9. I should really have a garage sale when I get out of here
10. Broken snowshoes make nice wall décor
11. Soggy pretend barbecued chicken paired with flaccid yam fries
12. I fucked you in my dream on invitation only
13. Ophelia photo in cabin a bad idea
14. Ophelia photo anywhere a bad idea
15. Nothing happens for the best, so stop saying it
16. Anne Sexton comforted me when you died; she looked so YouTube-happy talking about death, smiling
17. Suicide is the ultimate jilting—really
18. The frogs all start singing at the same moment
19. In Australia, the cane toads fuck each other dead as jeeps drive over them
20. Some things countries should never import: cane toads, ladybugs, Americans, Budweiser
21. There were other possible endings to our story
22. A choice is a fiction

Day 3
1. You people won’t break me
2. Cashier dripped nose onto my grocery bag
3. Lately, I only dream in written words others write
4. Memory is pine-resin sticky
5. Memory does not stick
6. You said you loved me
7. Freckles, just a smattering
8. A whole galaxy, gone
9. You should be here with me
10. You should be somewhere
11. I should too, be a somewhere-thing
12. A magpie sits on the lampshade
13. Even if it isn’t a magpie, I make it so
14. Crow, on the light switch cover too
15. The light won’t glow behind the magpie-crow shade: opacity
16. I talk to you even more now that you’re gone
17. I hope you’re getting some rest over there
18. I still worry about you finding me attractive or not
19. Humans look better in clothes
20. There’s no one here to keep you alive
21. Someone else drives your car now

Day 4
1. Inner self
2. Inner tubes
3. Floating
4. Yellow weeds grow out of sand, browning flowers, no assists
5. Sun beats smooth like a skin drum
6. Her short black dress sways opposite her skeleton
7. A man runs up the sand, catches up, and wraps around her
8. Mine, says the hand, the hand on the handy wrap man
9. Her white skin shocks through black straps dropping
10. Beach lovers, silent picture
11. July is our anniversary
12. Some July           A previous July          Better          We met
13. Some August you die
14. Some August you will always die
15. Flies are still biting my legs
16. They will die for a bite as I slap absent-mindedly
17. Their lives tiny

Day 5 What Remains?
1. Sketched a map of your lavender in the fire rings, so when I’m old, I’ll find them
2. Why is that woman traveling alone
3. Not happiness, something underneath the sand
4. I can’t believe you forgot your body
5. The horse-headed boy gallops back and forth along the platform
6. The old dyke at the rock shop was cold—does she think no one knows
7. I should feel happy for the beach lovers but don’t
8. A Mexican-American woman transformed her life with tomatoes
9. She saved her suicidal friend with beaches, free ones, and screened-in porches
10. I wish we had gone to the beach like we intended
11. Wish you had known her
12. Wish I had known her
13. That couples’ footprints along the shoreline look like one, yeah like that Jesus-God story
14. Those straight people do get carried          and carried away          the Christians
15. Men are gods
16. I found two shells, two halves of us, I thought, then lost them in the sand
17. Took a picture first
18. Thought a lot about twos when I knew you, splitting everything like a child learning to share
19. You were splitting, away
20. Snake emerging from the water is only a stick
21. I’m a tape recorder Eyes Windows Camera Obscura
22. My house is a head



Koss (she/they/them) is a queer poet, writer, and artist with publications in Chiron Review, Michigan Quarterly (Mixtapes), Cincinnati Review (miCro), Spillway, diode poetry, Five Points, Spoon River Poetry Review, MoonPark Review, Gone Lawn, Anti-Heroin Chic, San Pedro River Review, North Dakota Quarterly, Bending Genres, Prelude Magzine, and many others. Anthologies include Get Bent, Beyond the Frame, and Punk. Koss’s chapbook, Dancing Backwards Towards Pluperfect is forthcoming from Diode Editions. They’ve received numerous award nominations and won the Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry contest. Find links to their work at: koss-works.com or connect on Twitter @Koss51209969