“Catasterization” by Kirstin Allio

A Strange Fire Burns Other Seasons, Edward Lee

I’ve eaten all the salt I packed 
for this journey and the stars 
in my eyes are quartz in my shoes.

The train strips the light from neo
medieval farmland, crude
contraptions are cows on winter frames.

Evenin, folks, says the conductor, 
pitching down the aisle like a groom.
Hope everyone’s enjoying—

The way the train sheers the back
of a seasonal motel as a thumb
and finger spread the slats

Of the blind. Out the window, gull feathers 
of snow, snow in blond folds 
like a hide. Scenes from novels I read 

Years ago rise from a dark moat. 
A flood in Jayne Anne Phillips, a child 
in the rafters, breathing dust for days. 

Rat’s nest forest, margin of singed
trash, huge hush as the train pours
down the dark side of a wave. 

Decisions so clean, Celtic knots
of my own white hair, a first generation
spacecraft on a priceless

Chain reveals glaring error in how I’ve always seen
my relation to the stars. No time
to think, I shake out my shoes.

Far below, coolly illuminated,
the ending tracks an etude,
an effort, a life

Lesson cast off, unlearned.  


Kirstin Allio’s books are Buddhism for Western Children (University of Iowa), Garner (Coffee House), and the story collection Clothed, Female Figure (Dzanc). She has received fellowships from Brown University’s Howard Foundation and MacDowell.

Edward Lee is an artist and writer from Ireland. His paintings and photography have been exhibited widely, while his poetry, short stories, and non-fiction have been published in magazines in Ireland, England and America, including The Stinging Fly, Skylight 47, Acumen and Smiths Knoll.  He is currently working on two photography collections: ‘Lying Down With The Dead’ and ‘There Is A Beauty In Broken Things’.He also makes musical noise under the names Ayahuasca Collective, Orson Carroll, Lego Figures Fighting, and Pale Blond Boy.

If you purchase a book through the above Bookshop.org affiliate links, we receive a small percentage of the cost