Keith Ekiss


In the days of first breath, the newborn breeds a rash and since the fact of parenthood is now permanent you phone your mother for advice, a gift you think you’re giving of her own expertise, a chance to take part, but when she claims she’s got no idea what to do, can’t recall that was nearly forty years ago, and if she could remember now what she did for your skin no doubt today the medicine would be different, totally opposed, even, to a cream she might have applied with such care, back then, leaning over the crib and no real grave concern.



At the corner market, one that sells cheap fuel, I heard a shot, backfire or gunfire it wasn’t certain when the schizophrenic, a gas station loiterer, pointed a pistol-finger at my eye blam-blam and pulled the imaginary trigger. I didn’t fall, didn’t bleed, no one surrounded me. No gate opened, light shining through, no hands lifted me to heaven. Hold the coffin, I’m not dead. I’m an ordinary citizen. But there’s a ricochet of think inside my pinball head. I like to stay in one place without moving. Let’s review the tape again: no weapon was present. I want the end or the beginning not the unknown middle, the place we’re always in.


Keith Ekiss is a Jones Lecturer in the Creative Writing program at Stanford University and a former Wallace Stegner Fellow in Poetry. He is the author of Pima Road Notebook (New Issues Poetry & Prose, 2010) and translator of The Fire’s Journey (Tavern Books, 2019), an epic poem by the Costa Rican writer Eunice Odio in four volumes. Territory of Dawn: The Selected Poems of Eunice Odio was published in Spring, 2016 by The Bitter Oleander Press. He is the past recipient of fellowships and residencies from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, Community of Writers’ Conference, Millay Colony for the Arts, Santa Fe Art Institute, and the Petrified Forest National Park.

Thank you for reading Vol. 2, No. 3