the poetry that matters

Delaney Keaten

Delaney Keaten is a native of Colorado, living near Denver. She has been published in The Junk Lot Review and co-authored the book As We are Now, But Never Again with Kate Hammerich.



That final day

I fell in love

with a ghost,

closed the book.


The daily cigarettes

& dreamers

threw themselves

from the windows

of their NYC


& their furniture

lost its grip

on gravity.

All the drunks

looked up

at the growling


& in their

blue dreams


played the viola,

replacing their

wives with

alter egos

of canine teeth.

In the eight days

that vanished—

paper planes

into the horizon—

all the hellos

& naked goodbyes

were spoken.

The rabbit hole

was simply a ditch

by a tree,

a bowl

filled with snakes

that ate away

at our reason.

& in Denver,

twenty virgins

cried for the


they’d be sewing

the rest of

their days.





House of Good Sense


I want to crawl inside

a cleft in your


& live among people

who don’t know
me much.

Sleep awkward

under typewritten words—

the print mistakes

my constellations

the white page,

my passion diffused.

In a world of
good sense

like the static on

old echocardiograms,

cities like

beautiful people

walking across

the Hollywood sign,

I could be small—

circle myself

into austerity.

I wouldn’t shake

from the lapse
of cigarettes

or my

centrifuge heart.

I could be

the antithesis
of vanity—

no mirrors

to see

the future inside

like film screens.





Pride & Portraits


This isn’t a Jane Austen

novel, but these women wear hose

to hide the lovers' names

tattooed on their legs

as they push them

out the window—

simple as paper dolls

& just as dimensional—

before their husbands

come home.

They put on their

joie de vivre in the

marble bathroom,

polish their nails

to resemble Chinese silk,

& put cotton balls

in their throats to

disguise their voices

to appease the beastly men

they wed back in

1914 when they were already

old enough to have known

the first Queen Elizabeth—

played with her in the moors.

The tears they turn on

when accused of affairs

are made of vodka &

the flowers sent afterwards

smell of monarch butterflies

& repressed sexuality.




Their mothers told them

to marry a tycoon—

oil, steel, hypodermic needles,

& now they bathe in

paper sheets with men

they named after their fathers—

Romeo, Casanova, Lothario,


Agelessness is a skill

acquired by laughing too loud,

fermenting your own wine

& drawing clothes on your body.

These women never met

Mr. Darcy or learned

how to control their tempers—

they live off a plantation,

crawling into the ground

every time they need to

sleep off a hangover.

This is not a Jane Austen

novel, these women know how

to juggle lives & lovers &

scripted intelligence

like circus performers.

The nouveau riche—

they are timeless &

terribly gauche.


Hotel Selbstmörder


The night clerk

brings ice

for frayed nerves—


The best confidants

say not a


compound sentence—

just nod their

bobbing heads,

sinking deeper

each time

into the water

of neurosis.

They do not own it.

As the poet

sticks her head

from the window

to see the center

of the earth—

flailing at life—

the clerk

pulls her in

by the funeral shoes,

places the bridal veil

back square

on her sickened head.

The dears of night service

listen with waterlogged ears—

every insanity muffled,

sounding like the

discordant music it is.

They know it is best

to never touch

the rising beast—

its twenty heads.

All it needs is

Someone to growl to.

Bright light forces

sterility of the mind—

dim of night

allows warped

& knotted opinions

to thrive like gnats.

Jungle insomnia—

what an embarrassment


in the night is.

Her zippers coming unglued

& dissolving into skin.






Your voice sounds like

a husband’s

chilled tone of soothing

when I show up

in a mink coat

& hair freshly dyed

to resemble

the Little Red

of my abhorrent childhood.

I spent all day

in front of the mirror—

looking for the source

of every natural disaster

in my blasé face.

If I started every

wildfire in the Rockies

I should look like

a pale flame in the dark.

You bend to pick up

every insanity

I dropped on your doorstep—

whispering in the

hush-tone eyes

of someone who cannot

stop for exhaustion.







About love—

that clattering
of heart-knuckles
trying to lace,

the bruising
of reflections
in another's
eye mirrors,

the way sky
turns to

sea foam

& milk


too Technicolor

for comprehension,

the whispers
of sheets,

clocks ticking


into touches,

the way
it chokes
like a gas
but leaves
a high

I can do
without it.

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                                                                                                               June 9, 2012