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Poets on Couches: Donika Kelly Reads Taylor Johnson

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National Poetry Month is almost over, but the second series of Poets on Couches continues. In these videograms, poets read and discuss the poems that are helping them through these strange times—broadcasting straight from their couches to yours. These readings bring intimacy into our spaces of isolation, both through the affinity of poetry and through the warmth of being able to speak to each other across distances.

States of Decline
By Taylor Johnson
(Issue no. 228, Spring 2019)

The room is dying honey and lemon rind.
Soured light. My grandmother sits in her chair

sweetening into the blue velvet. Domestic
declension is the window that never opens—

the paint peeling, dusting the sill, and inhaled.
It is an american love she lives in,

my grandmother, rigored to televangelists
and infomercials. Losing the use of her legs.

Needing to be turned like a mattress.
No one is coming for her. The dog is

asleep in the yard, her husband,
obedient to the grease and garlic

in the cast iron, salting her
death in the wind house.


Donika Kelly is the author of two collections of poems, Bestiary and The Renunciations. She teaches at the University of Iowa. Her poem “Dear—” appeared in the Winter 2018 issue.

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