Kathleen Winter

Signs of the Overly Hopeful

Along the Gulf’s lousy mirror of wet sand
I run out of anxiety
but it refills me before the hot water’s gone in the shower.

A miserably-married relation said Every great thing in my life has come
out of taking these crazy risks.

I risk being pessimistic. Even art’s become disappointing.

In Houston’s MFA, galleries of baby-faced Marys, gilt wood
surrounding their patient faces peeling. Joseph’s hair is grey
as Jeffrey Epstein’s.

Is less rat-racing the answer? Is it obvious as a highway sign?
Brakeless Trucks Must Bypass Rest Area

My friend Lenore has a strategy:
I answer all the questions
with a small amount of truth
and a large amount of practicality.

A muddle is E. M. Forster’s phrase for when we don’t know our own minds.

Lenore’s always known herself: Calm. But with a twitch.

Rick said she has a romantic aversion to the idea of marriage.

I think sex is the Judas horse that led us into…..what? the state pen? marriage? nine years
of dust?

Impervious surfaces. Antiquated lamb.
We’re all a lot older than when we first thought these things. But maybe time’s on our side.

I want a side of reality. Even when depressing.

Teens choose fantasy when they feel they have no agency.

In reality we dread the president could linger past November
like a rat behind a wall.

I don’t want to be overly hopeful
but no one human can accept that smell.



Kathleen Winter is the author of Transformer (2020), the judge’s selection for The Word Works Hilary Tham Collection imprint, as well as I will not kick my friends, winner of the Elixir Poetry Prize, and Nostalgia for the Criminal Past, which won the Texas Institute of Letters Bob Bush Memorial Award. Her poems have appeared in The New Republic, The New Statesman, Agni, Cincinnati Review, Diode and Poetry London. She was granted fellowships by Sewanee Writers’ Conference, Dora Maar House, James Merrill House, Cill Rialaig Project, and Vermont Studio Center. Her awards include the Poetry Society of America The Writer Magazine/Emily Dickinson Award, and the Ralph Johnston Fellowship at University of Texas's Dobie Paisano Ranch.