Mark Kessinger

Reds, greens, blues, and purple finger painting. Highly impacted colorful piece, full of strong drops and traces of painting. Showing a strong character but allowing some air with some blank spaces that balances the piece.

“Fuck It,” by Kamelyta

Ken Holds Barbie

no longer brand new out of the box
most accessories lost or replaced
Malibu Barb, Stacey, Pepper, all grown-up
moved away into lives of their own
families of their own
the branding is stretched

she lies down, head in his lap,
and he strokes the side of her face
as if making wishes
for more of this

the pink jeep has been retired
the pink corvette rarely used anymore
the Barbie house is mostly quiet
and the days peel off
on their own
one by one
like wishes

and their hands
paler, smaller from wear
still fit perfectly
still somehow
made for each other
like bookends
of wishes.


I am listening to gutter ball thunder
retreating off my map
no longer under the roof
sort of stuff
like bar noise

tapering off after two

the party is over for
ill-divided electrons
hair lays down

secure on the neck

the chitchat downstairs
brings me new storm clouds
warning of people

getting their atoms unstable

changes are coming, forced,
unprepared, life altering
for us, or ours,

or people we know

blind, demented, one

is on his last legs.

Aging, matriarchal,
another looks for the next
protector, guardian angel

in line

for two girls
neck deep
with waist high


We sit over a horizon
where worlds
swiftly fold into

each other

with that unforeseen
brand of fate
that makes our idea of gods

snicker to each other

we exchange news
of storms
we don’t yet

need to weather

yet, if tested,
we will stand
like a prayer.

a favorite knife, at least

what would Thoreau have given
for a sturdy second story
where he could be level with
the tree tops when storms pushed
leaves awry with winds
and pelting rains.

How unique this slice into violence, into
revival, this ledge upon
the rain cycle, balcony for the unseen
comes close to feed from your hand.

Would he have surrendered so many trips to the pond,
skipped a meal or two to come running to
this high hide, this tree fort of
safety, insulation and comforted nest

to make his notes freely, without fear,
with front seat fascination to the strikes
and peals and jolts and jumps.
to be once or twice in a life
nose to nose
with the rainbow

Signal Core

ever so often I hear out of my wife
some tone of voice or hand-picked expression
that I know is not her
some taste of a friend
or acquaintance
or even some new combination of her

never debuted before me
till now.

I too want to be someone else.
Someone at least partially new.
I want to wear two different shoes
or turn away from the old routines
as if I belonged elsewhere

as well.

This is not infidelity.
Wing spread, perhaps.
Or competitor trunk branching out
towards other sun-falls

of life.

And who knows if I would not also
run into the new her that she partly is
looking at each other as strangers
and sizing up potential treasure
buried in each other’s future
buried beneath each other’s mask
atop of who
deep down
we really are, and who
we are meant to be

consider the up

Consider the sky.
Each home sits beneath it,
every box of bricks,
pile of planks,
mere pebbles
beneath an ocean of air.
Set and arranged in banks of rows,
clusters of city-parts.
Stones on a setting of blue,
its ring wider than the world.

Note its desert of solids:
ice, sure, sometimes,
the exception in a tumble of gas and
liquids, sun and star lights.

All of it walked in fingertips of wind,
roof by roof
the braille of backyards,
the tease of sprinklers,
and all of us little ants
too busy to bother
looking up.

Mark Kessinger was born in Huntington, WV, attended college at Cleveland State University, lived in Oklahoma City, and now resides in Houston, TX. He is a two-year recipient of a creative writing scholarship from CSU, a founding member and president of the Houston Council of Writers, and former editor of Voices from Big Thicket. His poetry has appeared in many publications and four anthologies.