Two Poems by Kayla King

Lessons in Map Making

You have a good chance of knowing
quiet. The real kind, the loud kind;
the way empty rattles and resonates beside
you in the car. And there’s a hill where you’ll tell her
it wasn’t real, but rather an illusion
forged from a maker’s mind.

You’ll ask: Why couldn’t you have been a cartographer?
Why couldn’t you map the spaces
into definitions and trails I could follow
to find? Why couldn’t you be—

Oh, she’ll say. Call you by your first name.
It’s what you’ll remember. The sting,
that sharpness; the sound of not crying,
but a warble in sweet song.
She might’ve been a singer, but now
she writes poetry instead.

You know poets don’t make anything
but dead dreams draped in decay.
It’s the way they word for the macabre,
the malignant, the mangled meter
of metaphorical moroseness.
And she’s mercurial in manner, your girl.

If only you could spread a map between
you. The paper would bend across your knees
like hills to climb. State lines would be traced;
manageable. Space wouldn’t seem so far.

But there’s no map. And there’s no talk of distant days
because too much time has passed. You can’t fold
the future back to past that way. Time is just a concept
no one figured out how to fix.

Texts I Read By Accident

Today, 11:06 PM
update: there were rumors / & i never made it to the party / i won’t tell anything

Wake up call kisses my ears in sweet chime; you sometimes sleep soundless.
Still I like the quiet in you. I answer, no voice. Just words of a text. Reading back through them, I remember. Mud prints sneaking in through the kitchen.
Fresh mint rolled between fingers. You disguised the smell of other things. Someone else was on your skin.

Wed, Jun 28, 1:18 AM
of course she loves champagne / of course she loves stars / of course you love tell me.

Now the sound of new words, no click of fingers on phone screen. I scroll quiet
as you snore. You give me reasons to read more; it will be easier to understand until
knowing provides a promise because, yes, there were rumors, right? They would always be other
lips and other tongues to give not truth, but halves of different stories you won’t tell.

Fri, Jun 16, 12:21 AM
let me love the parts of you that take time to find / we’re enough to complicate, but she’s
not enough for everyone / she might not be capable of loving / does that make this
i like her stillness in winter / & you, etc…

I have always been good at remembering, so I’m not sure why I fear forgetting now. Heat
kicks on, and room smells like almost-rain, because we’ve left the windows open. False glow
from phone screen is a phantom light that makes you look dead. I don’t cry, but remind myself:
we wanted the same things. And I have a theory: maybe this is already a memory; I’ll miss the
gutter overflowing outside the bedroom window. You used to joke about how I’d never survive
an apocalypse. We only have what we remember.


Kayla King is a graduate of Buffalo State College’s B.A. in Writing (2013), and the Mountainview MFA (2016). Her work has been published by or is forthcoming from One For One Thousand, Germ Magazine, Five 2 One Magazine, Plath Poetry Project, Cat on a Leash Review, MockingHeart Review, Figroot Press, Souvenir Lit Journal, Dear Damsels, The Mystic Blue Review, and Twelve Winters Press. You can find more about Kayla King at her website and blog: https://www.kaylakingbooks.com