Gregory Poetry, aaduna in exile, spring 2021 issue, Vol. 10 No. 1


About the Poet

Kiel M. Gregory (photo provided)

Kiel M. Gregory lives in Sackets Harbor, New York, and studies English literature, philosophy, and creative writing at SUNY Oswego. His prose and verse appear in Lips, Paterson Literary Review, Furrow, Gandy Dancer, and elsewhere. In addition to writing, his interests include skydiving, cooking, and reading classic and contemporary speculative fiction.



            Let poetry not be slaughter.

            Maybe vivisection.

            —D. Eric Parkison


Gross anatomy explosion,

Detailed map of a life lived,

An incomplete catalogue

Of knowledge and experience herein:


I was looking for a place to place

My soul translated into words.

I was quick to cut them out.


Look, I said, hands

Red and dripping,



Chest cavity splayed,

Made available for your seeking.


O, frayed dendrite,

Ceaseless nerve impulse,

This tender electric shine.

My body like an open book,

Hinged at the spine.




Chemically Induced for Intubation


An elephant does a circus ballet

on my sternum and my muscles

feel like I just did chest and abs

for a week straight and ate

no protein for the recovery.


Survival is the one thing my flailing

mind attempts to grasp. This will all be over soon

is of no comfort to me—

but her eyes.

Her eyes above the blue, pleated surgical mask

are perfectly shaped, colored

as if the sky and tropical oceans made love.


I could die overnight. She could be

smiling right now, and I might

never know either way.


Her voice is almost as soothing

as her eyes. She says,

Count backward from one hundred

and places her hand on my right shoulder

which is covered in a backless gown of matching blue.

I make it to ninety-seven and chuckle.

Her eyes smile and I think


If they wake me

and my mind is still tethered

to this body,

I will ask her out for coffee,


if coffee shops survive this, too.




Shopping Cart Asks Me How I Feel


Some of my friends haven’t written

since we’ve all been alone

in our respective homes,

and they tell me they’re scared

they’re not writers anymore.

I’m just glad they’re alive

to tell me of their fears. I tell them

watching porn and reading fiction and drawing

stick figures are all productive activities.


Shy away from retail therapy

because that’s literally capitalistic bullshit

programming. Fuck a shopping cart

dopamine high. Go for a walk. Maybe

try meditation. At least do a pushup or

something nice for your body.

Yes, wine is a nice thing for your body.

Yes, the whole bottle, I tell them,

if that’s what I think they need to hear.


I look over at the kitchen counter and see

the liter-and-a-half bottle of dry red

from the local winery.

The distillery one town over has converted

to producing hand sanitizer.

The world has changed.

I’ve changed.

I make sure to tell friends I love them.


I talked to my mother for the first time

in six months. I haven’t seen my children

in what feels like a year.


Gravity pulls a bead of wine

down the side of the bottle

until the label is stained with motion.


Here I am, looking at

my tabbed shopping carts,

engaging in retail therapy.

I hover over Place Order.

I will wait for the world to move again.



A Heard


            for Bre


Communication can pre-emptively solve

nearly any problem.

When she calls

a veggie omelet, rye toast,

home fries, and a side of hollandaise,

I say heard

to acknowledge the request,

to ensure nothing is wasted,

to keep the line alive.


Heard is something heard

in every commercial kitchen.


Due to the pandemic,

one of the best restaurants

in Upstate New York

has permanently closed.


Three weeks into isolation,

the kitchen manager sends me a text.


Separated by air of untested purity

and two car doors,

this is the closest we will ever be

in all the years we’ve known each other.


She tells me her truth.

Death has consistently stolen from her

since she was a child,

but she carries it with grace and patience,

and this pandemic is a reminder of memory.


Neighbors, friends, family:

to her, they are more than the numbers

that grow when I click the reload button

in my browser.


I interpret her composure as stoicism.


On the line, she is the one who

conducts our back-of-the-house dance.

She is the one we look to for guidance.

She is the one who asks about my poetry

during after-hours drinks. A new mother herself,

I wouldn’t imagine drinks would have been

on the menu this season, but


she still asks about my work, and she knows,

as a mother somehow always does,

how we operate within the confines of our minds.


I’m fine, I tell her.

It’s getting late. The evening cools,

and we both are hungry for supper.

We part, return to our separate homes, alone.


Later, when I finish cooking,

my phone buzzes.

She asks me what a group of line cooks is called.


This laughter is what we all need now,

and the answer will make a great title


for a poem.



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