The Keys to the Jail asks the question of who is to blame for all we’ve lost, calling us to reexamine the harsh words of failed love, the aging of a once-beautiful body, even our own voracious desires. Keetje Kuipers is a poet of daring leaps and unflinching observations, whose richly textured lyrics travel from Montana’s great wildernesses to the ocean-fogged streets of San Francisco as they search out the heart that’s lost its way.
Read alsoThe Sex Lives of Famous Lesbians
Queen Victoria simply did not believe that lesbianism existed, so it was never outlawed in the 19th century. However, across the Atlantic in the US the suffragette Susan B. Anthony, the artist Natalie Barney and the poet Emily Dickinson were all brushing up the sapphic arts. Over in France, the Napoleonic Code had introduced a certain laxity.…
In the flattening California dusk,
women gather under palms with their bags
of bottles and cans. The grass is feathered
with the trash of the day, paper napkins
blowing across the legs of those who still
drown on a patchwork of blankets. Shirtless
in the phosphorescent gloom of streetlamps,
they lie suspended. This is my one good
life-watching the exchange of embraces,
counting the faces assembled outside
the ice-cream shop, sweet tinge of urine by
the bridge above the tracks, broken bike lock
of the gay couple’s hands, desperate clapping
of dark pigeons-who will take it from me?
A former Wallace Stegner Fellow in Poetry, Keetje Kuipers's debut collection, Beautiful in the Mouth, won the A. Poulin, Jr. Poetry Prize. She has been the Margery Davis Boyden Wilderness Writing Resident, and is currently an assistant professor at Auburn University.