Poems: Andy Keys


Having had blood drawn, I lay down in the snow
in case I fainted. I zipped my jacket up;
who knew how long I’d be there, splayed out,
drained of platelets and fractionally
colder than normal, especially in my right arm
which the nurse had tourniqueted,
telling me of the curative powers
of bloodletting. It was for love
—or for the making of it, for the peace of mind
it provided to be called as clean
as the blank snowfield I now pricked. I felt
utterly organic, prone
to leaks and coagulation
and to affection; just then, I could have been
bottled up and brewed into a potent liquor
like that bright Antarctic lichen
which blooms like Petri cultures
on the bedrock there. I could have slept like that
forever, head cocked away from my empty
arm, numb as if it lay beneath a lover.
If I had shifted I would have made
some other imprint in the world
frozen around me, would have
established a past.


To a Pen Pal 

St. Andrews, Scotland 

Strange planet, this tangent. So glad I swept in like the western wind. So glad to meet you some eight years in, despite the train that stole me back away another day after, after all these letters which have done so much better at finding one another. 

What’s the protocol for meeting friends of friends you only know in words? Meeting yours was a test I don’t think I passed, and I’m sorry; I misunderstood— the backroom accents of loud crowds, you know. The Scotsman’s flotsam burr, the spearfishing of commonalities. Even between you and me, the verticalities of our venn diagram were narrow, chief among them our ninth-grade best friend. 

She asked about you—I said we haven’t spoken since I left you to the locomotive shuddering of windowpanes in winter. She asked me if we’d kissed, you know. I said our lips moved more than ever before between us, 

but no, that we had only spoken, and when we did it was like our letters: direct and thorough. And as we walked the beach, the gray waves that churned along the coast seemed to me as frothbone unforgiving as your Boston surf, the cold reducing everything to animal essentials; to the bright patch in the clouds a mile onward; to you, and me. 

When we meet again, I hope it isn’t warm. I hope we have to look for shelter again. I hope the whitecaps turn to snow, and I find myself again in the bobbing of the trainstop crowd, searching for sunlight, trying to find your face. 


Andy Keys is a writer, traveler, and mountain unicyclist from Sandpoint, Idaho and an MFA candidate at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. His poetry has appeared in ST.ART Magazine. Instagram: @_andykeys

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