“After Lincoln, Nebraska” – Poetry by Devin Kelly

Nebraska on the Plain - Albert Bierstadt, 1911
Nebraska, On the Plain – Albert Bierstadt, 1863

“After Lincoln, Nebraska” is one of two haunting yet beautiful Springsteen-inspired poems that Devin Kelly contributed to our Summer 2016 issue.

{ X }

THROUGH THE BADLANDS WE KILLED
& made our killing into love.

That time I went, sawed-off,
through the back door while you

charmed the checkout clerk
for some bread. I want to say

love’s real fun, but I don’t know
what came first – that smile

you cheeked while I peeked down
your blouse to find the wad of bills

you robbed like the sunlight stolen
in your hair,  or the kiss of your knee on

mine as we drove all night under
big moon & stars & some

good or evil god. We was something
else, road kill resurrected in dust

& the light of blue sky. I deserve
the chair for all the killing I’ve done,

but there was that day in Missoula
where you took the green you’d been

keeping & bought me a suit all paisley
& pink & used the rest on a dress

that made you bloom & twirl without
my helping. You took my hand & we pretended

we weren’t running. We waltzed our time,
whistle-cooled diner coffee on my dime,

told the waitress we were married
& expecting. Nothing is realer than

an honest lie. & nothing’s more fun.
God’s a good lie. & even God knows –

you can chew fat & still stay thin
& love is both a blessing & a sin.

{ X }

Processed with VSCOcam with t1 preset

DEVIN KELLY earned his MFA from Sarah Lawrence College and co-hosts the Dead Rabbits Reading Series in New York City. He is the author of the collaborative chapbook with Melissa Smyth, This Cup of Absence (Anchor & Plume) and the forthcoming collection, In This Quiet Church of Night, I Say Amen (ELJ Publications). He has been nominated for both the Pushcart and Best of the Net Prizes. He works as a college advisor in Queens, teaches poetry at Bronx Community College, and lives in Harlem.

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