Julie Kane


You with your brown pantsuits and flat shoes, so sensible;
who would have guessed you'd come back as a butterfly?
But something in your house was always burnt orange:
a sofa, the basement walls, one zigzag in the collage
of genuine South American butterfly wings
whose artist must have been a heartless little shit.

None of your second-graders would dare say "shit"
in your classrooms--not if they were the least bit sensible.
But even the worst boys got a kick out of seeing wings
emerge from jade-earring cocoons of monarch butterflies
gathered each fall along roadside ditches collaged
with leaves colored red, yellow, brown, and orange.

My favorite high school mini-dress was striped black and orange.
I thought I looked "groovy," but I must have looked like shit.
I believed that a high hemline or low décolletage
could save me from your fate of being drab and sensible.
The year I turned sixteen, I hatched into a butterfly.
In the back seats of Beetles, boyfriends pinned my new wings.

Between your force and my face, only a guardian angel's wings,
when rage at my sexuality made you see orange.
Your pretty young Irish mother had been a flirt, a social butterfly;
the grumpy old man she married, a bit of a shit.
You sided with him in the war of beauty versus the sensible.
Those were your mother's silks and powders, glued in your collage.

We propped it on the nursing home windowsill, that collage,
during the last weeks of your dying, when black and orange wings
kept crashing into my windshield. I'd tell myself to be sensible;
then I'd walk out into a parking lot and see a flash of orange
lying in the gravel, bird-pecked, decaying like shit.
Soon your soul would fly out of your mouth, an Egyptian butterfly.

The winter after you died, twenty million monarch butterflies
perished in a freak Mexican snowfall, their corpses collaged
on tree trunks in volcanic mountains, their beauty turned to shit.
How many canvases would you have papered with those wings?
Were you striking my face from beyond, by killing all that orange?
I write it down as if language could make it sensible.

First Communion Album

In a white dress &
veil, white shoes & ankle socks,
hair copper as a

'52 penny,
she stares back from the concrete
steps of a blue house,

unsmiling at the
grown-up behind the camera.
Shot after shot, in

the top right of each
frame, what looks like a ball of
flames floats above her.

"You & the Holy
Ghost," her mother used to joke,
riffling through pictures.

No joke to the nuns
in catechism class who
taught how it came down

to Christ's apostles
in licks of flame, bearing gifts
of tongues & vision.

A bad batch of film?
Her drunk father opening
the latched case outside?

as the words that seem to come
not from, but through her.


Plump little fruits,
Pink shading purple;
Veined to the touch;
Surface so fragile

Your palm forms a cup
Around a soft globe,
Wanting to shield it
When so exposed.

Favorite breakfast,
Milky with sap;
Favorite just-plucked
Afternoon snack;

Pleasure the tongue
Must memorize
For the long famine
Between Julys.

After Your Hysterectomy

You cannot get your stomach wet:
Damp towel dab it.

You cannot drive a car just yet:
You'll have to cab it.

You cannot lift a thing with heft:
So do not grab it.

You cannot smoke a cigarette:
So kick that habit.

And if only you'd been having sex
You couldn't have it.


Julie Kane served as Louisiana Poet Laureate from 2011 to 2013. Her two most recent poetry collections are Jazz Funeral (Story Line Press, 2009), the winner of the Donald Justice Poetry Prize, and Rhythm & Booze (University of Illinois Press, 2003), a National Poetry Series winner and Poets' Prize finalist. Her poems have been featured on Poetry Daily, Verse Daily, and The Writer's Almanac. A former George Bennett Fellow at Phillips Exeter Academy, New Orleans Writer in Residence at Tulane University, and Fulbright Scholar to Vilnius Pedagogical University (Lithuania), she currently teaches at Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, Louisiana.


Catherine Chandler
Amy Conwell
Lisa DeSiro
Jehanne Dubrow
Katherine Hoerth
Julie Kane
Fayth Kelly
Siham Karami
Jean Kreiling
Luann Landon
Charlotte Mandel
Mary McCall
Susan McLean
Laura Sheahen
Marly Youmans

PAFA After Dark
Marilyn Nelson and Sonia Sanchez participating in the women poets roll call, March 21, 2013

>Mezzo Cammin hosted the third anniversary of The Mezzo Cammin Women Poets Timeline Project on Thursday, March 21 at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, as part of its PAFA After Dark series and in affiliation with its exhibition The Female Gaze. Featured readers included Rachel Hadas, Marilyn Nelson, and Sonia Sanchez.

>Mezzo Cammin Awards Scholarship at West Chester Poetry Conference: Nausheen Eusuf.

>The Mezzo Cammin Women Poets Timeline Project Turns "40."

>The Mezzo Cammin Women Poets Timeline Project Panel at Celebrating African American Literature (CAAL) 2013, Penn State University, October 25-26.

Elana Herzog: In all of my work curiosity and pleasure are driving forces. The materials I use are often cheap, discarded household items that challenge conventions of taste and beauty. They draw attention to how art and design migrate throughout culture, from high to low and back again. My imagery traverses the language of abstract art, and that of the domestic and industrial landscape. Increasingly the work reflects my desire to understand the relationship between Modernism and the legacy of industrial and technological progress that permeates contemporary culture.
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