Kelly Neal - "Could" and "Whither"


“the clot of what I could not understand rising in my throat”

--Tristan Tzara


He spoke with an ontic grace, she

very rarely heard. Most words fill

silence like ash drifting from

a fire; his words expanded catching

her attention days later as she thought

of other things. They filled her

periphery; until claustrophobic,

she would quickly rise from her desk

step out into the street and breathe

in large panicked gasps as if a fish

desperate to escape the air writhed

on unfamiliar ground. She knew

that was not what he said, but she knew,

too, there was nothing else it could be;

and if he could speak of what he could

not, but what she wished he could,

then what could not have passed

between them, if only she could

have understood what he said

as he spoke, rather than now.

Memory cynically betrays us.

Now is all that matters; the then - -

what could have been, the question

as to what passes between any of us,

becomes the soul in its interpretation

of itself. The minute vision and revision,

as it were, which echoes into the empty

room - - such waste - - no one can hear.




the wind ruffled

the sycamore’s leaves

with laughter

as he wandered

toward a wood

once again

not fear

of death but life

strangled him

entangled his breath

in hacking spasms

until his words

caught against

his ribs

like birds


between wires

of an ornate cage

not so much

a struggle

against something

as sacrificed

into wind


Kelly Neal lives, teaches, and writes in central Texas. He received degrees in literature from the University of Texas at Austin, and the Bread Loaf School of English. After 25 years of only sharing his poetry with a small sampling of friends, he recently had poems published by The Axe Factory, A Literation and RoguePoetry Review. He is currently working on a project based upon the tarot with his sister, Donna Neal, a digital artist.