Ken Haas

Voyage of the Damned

Gone the hair and the cross around her neck.
The specialists have sent her back home.

Two months since we’ve tried this.
She can’t wait to be seen,
consumed by something human,
by desperate eyes and a prodigal tongue
called to circumnavigate the sores on her thighs,
every lip tanged with sulfur and smoke.
Looking up, I remember waiting for hours
in a line with other children,
to pass beneath the gaze of the Pietà,
the blindness that questioned death’s belief
in itself. Hers is not that gaze,
though also of beauty making a promise to pain.
Every one of her hours now
has been paid with ten in a pale blue smock,
The tap water tastes like gun metal,
her stereo’s in a box at the Salvation Army,
all our windows pried open for barking dogs.
She moves my hands from the breasts
that yesterday I could still imagine.
Captain of a fire ship,
she palms my shoulders from above
and tilts them like a wheel,
her core gripping with those ravishing folds
through which she often favored the real,
though ever less than she wanted.
Gone the shame and the polish on her nails.
The earth is flat and she’s sailing me
to the very end.

A Bend in the Hole

Often in the moment of waking
from my afternoon nap
I would see her peeking
around the corner of the living
room, sometimes with news,
mostly with that smile
resembling the present
in the rapture of its opening.
Now it is I, still waking,
peeking back from my rest
along the dazzling curve
of spacetime, still saying,
as I always did, “there
she is,” still hearing her
rejoin, as she always did,
“there she is,” because
having once been seen
there is no end to seeing,
and no one will ever again
have to wait for my love.



Ken Haas lives in San Francisco where he works in healthcare and sponsors a poetry writing workshop at UCSF Children’s Hospital. His first book, Borrowed Light, won the 2020 Red Mountain Press Discovery Award, as well as a 2021 prize from the National Federation of Press Women. Ken has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, has won the Betsy Colquitt Poetry Award and serves on the Board of the Community of Writers. His poems have appeared in over 50 journals and numerous anthologies.