Five Poems by Karol Nielsen

Bloodhound Eyes

Audrey is dead, suddenly, so young.
I sat beside her in the youth symphony—
first violin, fourth chair, behind her brother,
Ben. We played Bach, Beethoven, Mozart,
Liszt—chins pressed into violin rests,
horsehair bows sweeping strings together.

Audrey was big as a linebacker, gawky as
a preteen, as spare of words and visible
emotion as a Buckingham guard. She had a
head full of feral hair, a football face, and
bloodhound eyes—large, droopy, sad,
as if she knew her life would end too soon.


Life Sentence

Maria miscarried her child
after many months inside.
I lost my best friend —
a car accident, crushed lungs.
Josh lost his to suicide—
a bottle of pills, I think.

Rick found his father hanging
from a rope in the basement;
Martha watched her mother drinking,
slit her wrists; Genevieve remembers
hers bleeding in the bathtub, dead;
grown ups told her it wasn’t true.

I wrote about a divorced woman,
a gun to her head in Penn Station;
and a pretty college student—raped,
shot, stuffed in the trunk of her car.
I bear these stories like a life sentence,
their grief indelible, like a prison tattoo.


Some People

Some people make you light—
a sunray, a feather afloat.

Some people make you dark—
a ship’s hull, a prison cell. 



You think because
you are older,
know better—
fire burns, but
life is an inferno,
and we must
nurse charred flesh,
cinders of soul,
or else we are
consumed, whole.

Faces of War

The woman with red hair,
Army green shorts, wore
a black t-shirt that said,
Bush hates me. I wondered
how I was different. If.

The soldier on the news,
dead in Iraq, had a manly
jaw and arched eyebrows
like Cary Grant. I would
have liked to know him.

I lost the man I married
after the first Gulf War—
the sunshine of youth,
innocence, and dreams
shrouded by midnight.

My father—family man,
business executive,
veteran of Vietnam—
told me that war is a waste,
but I had to learn too.

More poetry at Used Furniture.


  1. i like that they are all so different from each other, in both topic and aesthetics, but at the same time these feel like they’re all part of a single collection… that they relate or are speaking to each other.

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