Kathleen Ossip


At the stem of a river, a razzlement, ta-da.
A man rides a donkey through a river, a woman walks behind.
A river rushes through the church and into the pot.
A river floods Tenth Avenue in Chelsea…
and there the boys of the New York School squint:
River, why do you sun me?
Such confusion isn’t friendly.

I feel luck clothe me when I see a river.
It throws up a tiara, a horseshoe: now I know how to read it.
I was born on a river where its path spread least mighty.
I widened and so did the river.
I walk now to market, I walk to the station.
The river my maypole. My future.
Like a sphinx, I hold the past but wish the river.

Pen Tray

      (Metropolitan Museum of Art: Asprey, British 1851)

Someone took
gilt bronze and
and fashioned
a pen tray.
They then de-
cided more
would entice
and melted
and looped gilt
bronze eighteen
times, carved six
small scarabs
and one large
scarab from
Someone thought
that someone
felt laying
a pen on
a bare wood
table un-
The second
someone paid
the first, who
then settled
with the land-
lord and bought
scrap meat and
carrots for
the week’s meals.

Metropolitan Museum of Art: Asprey, British 1851

Kathleen Ossip’s new book, July, will be published in June 2021. She is also the author of The Do-Over, which was a New York Times Editors’ Choice; The Cold War, which was one of Publishers Weekly’s Best Books of 2011; and The Search Engine, selected by Derek Walcott for the American Poetry Review/Honickman First Book Prize; and Cinephrastics, a chapbook of movie poems. Her poems have appeared widely in such publications as The Washington Post, The Best American Poetry, The Best American Magazine Writing, The New York Review of Books, The Nation, The New Republic, The Believer, Poetry, and The Paris Review. She teaches at The New School, the 92nd Street Y, and the Hudson Valley Writers Center. She has been a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University.

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Note from the Editor

Spring 2021