Les Kay

                                     Bayou Dentistry | Amy Maloof

                                     Bayou Dentistry | Amy Maloof

Self-Portrait as Derivatives Trader

Sue me up in a bow, distort
me with samples, distend
me with cauliflower, or call
me your wilted little one . . . .

So what? I’ll still wit forth
not one care, not one white
peony, not one copper
penny, not one cop beating
his whistling echowalk
down, down foggy Londontown.

Sarah sleeps within the aegis
of the City. Derivatives like
steam swirl from corner stores
when she closes her eyes.

Sometimes, beneath a grey
fleece hoodie, she catches sight
of something still unparceled.
Opportunity. It gives her chills,
summons cheddar from Wisconsin.
My name is Sarah.

So what? We eat shale sands,
picket fences, copper vandalism.
It tastes good, good enough
to kill, Sarah says. It’s nothing
to do with me, molehills made of
mountains, scullery in blue jeans . . .

O, I say as Sarah, just try harder.

Modes of Production


This poem doesn’t know its place. It has forgotten to break itself. It has neglected something like rhythm for reproduction in the hollow of a human throat. It has only one note to strike. It strikes the single note like a child striking the sidewalk with a plastic mallet. It has left transcendence behind. Squeak, squeak. The mallet hits the sidewalk. The child craves chocolate. This craves chocolate. Chocolate bunnies. Chocolate eggs.

Later, there will be cities. Honk, honk. Later, there will be chocolate cities to leave behind. Later, this will apologize for itself, singing: Remember the sea-green rabbit’s feet we bought at skating rinks? Later slicked ducks will fail to explode up from estuaries. Later, salamanders will suck eggs dry. We will forget to break ourselves. The mallet will know its place. Milk chocolate will smear the borders of our tiny mouths.


Self-Portrait as Godzilla (Consumption)

Crush temptation with new, state-of-the-art reptilian teeth. Your camera grows cold as fallout. Lizard synapses spark deep-fried feelings. You have love, leftovers. Whiskey. Whispers for southern fried hills. Windswept advertisements. Turn to them with a flashcube smile. Watch piney infernos dance the coastline of your former future.




Les Kay is the author of Home Front (Sundress Publications, forthcoming 2017), and the chapbooks The Bureau (Sundress 2015) and Badass (Lucky Bastard Press 2015) as well as a co-author of the chapbook Heart Radicals, which is forthcoming from ELJ Publications in 2016. He holds a PhD with a focus on Creative Writing from the University of Cincinnati and an MFA from the University of Miami, where he was a James Michener Fellow. His poetry has appeared widely in journals such as [PANK], Redactions, South Dakota Review, Southern Humanities Review, Sugar House Review, Whiskey Island, and The White Review. He is also an Associate Editor for Stirring: A Literary Collection. Follow him at: http://www.leskay.com.