“Love Letters,” “Purple Flowers,” and “Chicago Stars and Hospital Beds”

In Poetry by Kristen Dunn

Love Letters

No comfort

in this world

No warmth

rising from the cracks

in this cement ground

Ice breaks

on the surface of the lake

implying your ability to drown

There is no pleasure in these skies

No solace in Libra

or Gemini

I deem the observing constellations too passive!

I have been waving this white flag for far too long

One planet neglects me and

the others play along

It was Neptune who changed his mind

He has a heart,

which I presumed began to work

because he removed the white flag from my hands,

but then he threw me into a hole in the dirt!

I caught one last glimpse of this deserted town

as the weight of the air

pulled me

down

down

Down into the soil,

beneath a tree,

I beheld shreds of ripped up paper

They are letters which began compassionately

but turned into threats of danger

Letters of love

morphing into letters of suicide,

torn up and buried within the ground.

I pulled myself out of this love letter grave,

placing the dirt back over what I had found

And I watch this blue sky

turn into your sapphire eyes.

The clouds,

the color of your complexion.

This sky is now a ghostly mirror,

displaying your reflection.

And it was you

who once was the pleasure in these skies.

It was your warmth

which once rose from these cement cracks.

It was your letters

buried under the tree.

And they are letters I never want back.

Purple Flowers

Did you manage to write while sitting in the garden?

Did you write about the wildfire who gave away his sight?

He thought others would be gifted his vision mixed within the ashes,

but I don’t think he understood that right.

How much weight did you lose while waiting?

Did each pound slip out into the ink of your pen?

How many lines did you write while sitting in the garden?

About people you will never see again.

The blue sky was dyed indigo.

And yes, the planted corpses have bloomed.

How deep in nature did you have to hide?

For flowers to stop resembling a tomb?

How many purple roses did you cast away?

How many lilacs did you find?

Purple flowers never resembled life

Only the passing of time

Did you see the skyline of the city?

Were you able to point out St. Paul’s?

Did you romanticize it like those before us did?

Did you see the remains of the London wall?

Everything always changes

The only way to live is to embrace it

Everything is always dying

The only way to live is to face it.

Chicago Stars and Hospital Beds

I

I do not remember the first time I tried to see the stars.

In Chicago,

each glance upward is met with city lights.

Seeing the stars is a hopeless space mission.

II

I do not remember the first time I met my mom,

but I know she was in a hospital bed,

enough of a cause for me to cry.

But I do remember the last time I saw my mom,

she was in a hospital bed,

I held back my tears as I said my “goodbye.”

I remember the stories that came out on the news

describing outcomes like what I had just seen,

a fever, cough, ventilator,

the need for a new vaccine.

I remember the closing doors of my school

forcing me to find satisfaction in an online education.

I remember drinking a bottle of tequila the night of my dad’s lymphoma diagnosis.

And the fear of the new situation.

We couldn’t even see each other.

He had to always stay quarantined.

We couldn’t even see each other.

Even when there was a new vaccine.

III

In Chicago,

it is so difficult to see the stars.

I remember when I finally saw them

And realized they do not align.

Next thing I remember,

was God stepped on an hourglass

and the way he glared at me

as I ran to catch the time.

The sand that I caught,

turned into dirt,

slipped through my fingers,

fell into my dad’s grave.

Buried with it are my dad’s last couple years

of what coronavirus stole away.

About the Author

Kristen Dunn

Kristen Dunn was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois. She is earning her MFA in writing at University of San Francisco. She received her bachelor’s degree from Loyola University Chicago in English, creative writing, and philosophy. She studied English poetry at University College London during their 2022 summer session. She is the author of the full-length poetry collections, Leaves to Stay (Cyberwit.net, 2020) and Sun in My Eyes (Cyberwit.net, 2023). Her poetry has appeared in Dream Noir, For Women Who Roar, and Voices. Her poem, “Not of Muscle” was selected as the first-place winner of the President’s Award for Poetry by Midwestern State University Press. She is a spoken word artist and performs spoken word at many venues.

Read more work by Kristen Dunn.