Claire Anna Baker "Strings of Desire"

Claire Anna Baker "Strings of Desire"

Jill Ann Mceldowney

K Names: Kyle


I can’t stay mad at Kyle because we’re both alcoholics or at least

                                                                               I’m an alcoholic

                                                                               the color of waking up alone

                                                                               a page where the toner went out

                                                                               and his fingers on the neck of a guitar.


He comes through a window in a oil painting and shows me an abandoned house where the

                                               bookcases pull back to rooms full of storms coming in,

                                                                                                                  moons on the blinds,

                                                                 dark blue fingerprints on the corners of a keyboard.


Kyle rests his hand on my chest

and it flutters there all summer

eventually running down each rib

black to purple to yellow, staining each blade.


Autumn creeps and in front of a furnace while we lie together I say rosaries on his fingertips.


                        “How many bodies has that chimney seen?”


His face, the color of the white sky burning the corners of the treetips shielded by the hood of a

kiss tattered sweater can’t see my face,

watering at the boarded up house

the turned out umbrella, the hooked coat hangers

or the face through the glass

looking past both of us to the furnace.


The smoke starts churning again and the bellows of the earth begin their slow distant descent.

K Names: Kayla


Kayla looks so lovely

standing by the grocery store roses.

I can feel the heat coming off of her

the windows of her greenhouse are fogging up.


On Your Bedroom Floor

                        Her, dragging his hands through her own hair

                                           and counting the calories in a kiss.


            “What you think this is, and what you think this isn’t, are the exact same thing.”



I part the witching hour to the place where rows of new shovels wait.


                                    “He never needed those shovels.”


At the moment, I can’t see anything but the violent red slash of her mouth.


Kayla’s voice pendulum drops

from the center of her in a rattle

that tastes like the coals of a barbecue fire and roses.

Her breath frosts out the words

and I know then if anyone was

to perform an autopsy,

her organs would crumble in their hands.


Below the both of us, a furnace is stirring.

The lights in another house go out and a mother tells her daughter to get her gas mask.



Jill Ann Mceldowney is a poet and model who lives and writes in Chicago.