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3 poems by Kenneth Pobo


Uncle Saloogy has definite opinions

which he calls laws. Break one

and he tosses you in his mental jail,

no lawyer to present your case.

You’ll rot, starve. He says all that matters

is being right. He knows he’s right—

the jail bars thicken overnight,

the key can’t tease open the lock.

Before I went to jail, I built a shelf

which held cherries and a red hollyhock

in a vase. He confiscated all I had, fed

my dreams to wrens. Even after he died,

the bars stayed firm. I learned

to saw them off with my teeth.

Aunt Stokesia’s Three Big Pronouncements

As a child I couldn’t pronounce my name.

Vowels clashed. I asked my parents

to change my name.

We’ll call you Stokes, they said.

I pronounced myself Stokes. She had

a better life than Stokesia who watched

too much TV in the basement. When Stokes

got married, Pastor Agon pronounced me

a wife. This sounded final, like a window

slammed on her fingers. Divorce came soon.

When my mother died, the nurse pronounced

her dead. I had read about cremation,

the temperature required, too low

to burn away a single memory.

Night Life

Night doesn’t really fall,

it creeps in like a dream

into my sleep, I loll

in peace, big

and deep under

a red-bucket moon.


Kenneth Pobo is the author of twenty-one chapbooks and nine full-length collections. Recent books include Bend of Quiet (Blue Light Press), Loplop in a Red City (Circling Rivers), Dindi Expecting Snow (Duck Lake Books), and Wingbuds (, and Uneven Steven (Assure Press). In addition to poetry, he also writes fiction and essays. For the past thirty-plus years he taught at Widener University and retired in 2020.


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