Five Kingdoms by Kelle Groom


Van K. Brock Florida Poetry Series (2009)

Kelle Groom's poems are like underwater songs, sung from the submerged continent of the inner life, the life we don't often expose to the outer world, the one we don't speak of. They have the bemused slightly sad knowledge of lived life, but mainly, these poems come from the muse of soulfulness, they are "tender-minded" -- they balance honesty with perceptiveness of others, which is the true sign of tenderness. They are wry, artful, sad, loving, and moving. A true pleasure. -- Tony Hoagland

Kelle Groom's new book, Five Kingdoms, attempts to categorize the world, make sense of its violence, loss, and beauty. Groom makes the unbearable bearable through lists, ekphrasis, wild associations, and ritual. Her poetry cross-references politics, biology, history, domesticity, and war. Her work glows with her spirit and intellect, explodes with joy and grief. Five Kingdoms sings with what it is to be human. -- Denise Duhamel

Kelle Groom's beautiful poems are haunted by a rare intuition, a sense that things are more than what they appear. -- Malena Mörling

Groom likes to set vivid scenes -- a fireman speeding to an emergency, a hitchhiker risking a dangerous ride -- and then lift them into poetic bliss. She's also capable of flights of fancy that end up unexpectedly moving. -- Ken Tucker (Entertainment Weekly)



Five Kingdoms

What is the blue in the temperature drop? 
            Is the stove doing its arithmetic 
                        so that heat is not just felt but seen?

Do you know the whereabouts 
            of the color photograph of a dog, 
                        tide tables, a car down below?

What is the plan for your own and another's vital 
            signs, the rose red yellow? If you drape 
                        the windows with seaweed,

is that the simplest means for extinguishing 
            the species? Do you keep all of your money 
                        under the bed because of the cold war,

because those now living lay down years ago?
            With the dropping of the first bomb, did our average age 
                        limit drop? If we place lucky objects, perform

activities a special number of times, if we are ugly or disfigured
            in some way, and we diagnose our contact with live
                        animals, broken glass, auto exhaust garbage

grease and solvents, lead, can we forgive our impulse 
            to rob, steal from, cheat, for causing harm to others 
                        with our thoughts, training a blow torch

on hundreds of thousands until their skin came off like gloves, 
            a child a white flash running in the street. Recite 
                        the lucky numbers and the multiples,

collect and remove tacks razor blades nails lit cigarettes, 
            touch them before using, before you break in two, categorize 
                        the five kingdoms, count all the living things.



I walked on boards broken by the hurricane
into a shack with the windows blown out,

slept in the limbs of the house, in blue T-shirts,
ocean, night sky, the wind glassy, waves below

always coming toward me, wanting to play, 
and when I open up in the nightlight to slide down

the dunes, trusting the hurricane debris of planks and lost 
alligators, nails and bricks, will make way,

the ocean dresses the door of my apartment in town
with notices, over and over; then the sheriff

posts his letter, hear ye, hear ye, like a medieval 
broadside, and in 24 hours, he's back to cart

my belongings to the curb--donated furniture, 
my grandmother's books, Bible, the dirt from my son's

grave, birth certificate with the official green stamp, 
every word I've written--it's all tumbled in car exhaust,

the homeless men by the lake coming to take a look 
like seagulls on their tippy-tip feet.


Loud House

Het up boys, skitter boys, muttonchop 
go-go boys, gurgle music, kidney stone

music, muchachos party, rubicon sand fire 
flaring party, thunderbird ski hats in summer

party, sweaty head party, pound & thump, 
socket burning beach party, orange forklift

beach, orange moon ba-boom, hooch smoke, 
ta-ta smoke, stonkered house, pandemonium

tetherballed, turtle orbitted, oriflamme ant 
house, rust hilled, I know I'm violating

myself house, Maybe you'll see me 
on MTV
 house, No, dude (to a dog) house,

evening knock knock knock knock 
house, evening anamatter clink: glass and tin,

goo food jars, chest hammer music, earthmover,
dog bark music, beep beep back-up

talk, rag and straw sleep, panic sleep, dart 
sleep, rummage, rumple, canyon sleep,

sulky bunco, mittenheaded boys, saw- 
voiced reclamation boys, fumarole,

radio pale, tar breathing boys 
in the chewed grass, white sail an exhale.

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