Kelly Grace Thomas

The Doctor Asks How Long Do you Bleed?

For three days / or not all / always too early or too late / hope / a four letter sword
I bleed all winter/ through 37 bottles of Cab / in debt / ugly as turned perfume / in Los Angeles standstill / worrythick / as husks of dying trees / I bleed / in slow drips of sorry / into the hands / of whatever body is left / I blood for 2 days / in head shakes and 368 miles / twice a month / trading hours / houses / part time panic / north towards never / I bleed hungry packs of questions / in futures I fail and fail / I fall again / baggage / that will not zip / in my mother’s pleas / she will never pronounce grandchildren / ghosts / miles between / here and calm / I bleed oceans and oceans /
a century of drought



How I Learned You

Body, I still have
high school on my hands.
Counted each timid teaspoon
of survival. All those hours I stared
at your windows, addicted
to glass. Didn’t know if I was
the bird or the break.

Body, I’ve spent two summers
burning you like boat. Still
I spread eviction like lipgloss.
I can’t write you
out of me. Sadness

turned me: a duller
instrument. The tourniquet
of a turned back. My submission:
these hands will always shake.

My mother never taught me
potassium or hunger. Instead blurred
speech, mumbled what men
might do. How we would empty

each other. Body,
there is no such thing
as shelter. I don’t live
here. Neither do you.



Kelly Grace Thomas is the winner of the 2017 Neil Postman Award for Metaphor from Rattle, 2018 finalist for the Rita Dove Poetry Award and multiple pushcart prize nominee. Her first full-length collection, Boat Burned, will release with YesYes Books in January 2020. Kelly’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in: Best New Poets 2019, Los Angeles Review, Redivider, Nashville Review, Muzzle, DIAGRAM, and more. Kelly currently works to bring poetry to underserved youth as the Director of Education and Pedagogy for Get Lit-Words Ignite. Kelly is a three-time poetry slam championship coach and the co-author of Words Ignite: Explore, Write and Perform, Classic and Spoken Word Poetry (Literary Riot), currently taught in the Los Angeles Unified School District. Kelly has received fellowships from Tin House Winter Workshop, Martha's Vineyard Institute of Creative Writing and the Kenyon Review Young Writers. Kelly and her sister, Kat Thomas, won Best Feature Length Screenplay at the Portland Comedy Film Festival for their romantic comedy, Magic Little Pills. Kelly lives in the Bay Area with her husband, Omid, and is currently working on her debut novel, a YA thriller, titled Only 10.001.