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TWO POEMS BY DEAN KOSTOS

THE DOLL GOD

In my Genesis reversed, I created females
first, then families of toilet-paper dolls.

I twisted heads, torsos, limbs,               smudged
pastel faces. Scrawled names on backs.

I hid the dolls in a box beneath my bed.
They aged, grew ill,

died. Some committed suicide,
some killed.

Dressed in the green of a Greek priest, I chanted
with a censer, Doll-ios, Death-ios
                                   
& buried the dolls in sand
below our backyard swings. I stabbed

twig markers. Returning
in a red robe, I dug up

the remains—needing to see
death:
           
chewed, putrefied flesh. I reburied
the homunculi in the creek’s clay banks

beside our house. Swamp-willow braids
swayed,     swept the ground.

Nights, I peered from my room. Muskrats,
the size of Chihuahuas, patrolled the tombs.

Like tutelary spirits, the animals
        swarmed. But I knew my dead dolls

were sealed from harm:               clay
hardening by day & darkness.

       

US-WARD

I wade in boyhood’s creek.
Currents reverse.        My parents grow
younger. Dusk. Crickets rasp. With one foot

in childhood, one in adulthood, I enter
night’s tarnish & peer
into shuttered windows.

My parents rise from the cracked smile
they tried to inhabit. Their voices roar
us-ward.

I trace a path to the chatoyant creek.
Discolored currents.
Clay banks curve below a bridge

reeking of tar.
I scribble synonyms
for forgetting:

letter never signed,     letter
never sent to childhood’s house.
That building is now a scar.



Dean Kostos’s memoir, The Boy Who Listened to Paintings, was a finalist for the Foreword Indies Award. His tenth book, Broken Color, is forthcoming from MadHat Press. Kostos's books include This Is Not a Skyscraper (recipient of the Benjamin Saltman Poetry Award, selected by Mark Doty). He edited Pomegranate Seeds (its debut reading was held at the United Nations). His work has appeared in over 300 journals, including  Oprah Winfrey’s website Oxygen.com. His choral text, Dialogue: Angel of War, Angel of Peace, was set to music by James Bassi and performed. His literary criticism has appeared on the Harvard University Press website. He is the recipient of a Rockefeller Cultural Innovation grant. He presented his poems and paper, “Schemes and Schemata: Endless Play,” at Harvard’s Mahindra Center.


 



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