Statement of Record

Three Poems by Sarah Kain Gutowski


Three Poems by Sarah Kain Gutowski


Listen to the Shadows

You wake with dream’s odd deformities

crowding your awareness – oversized

hands, clubbed foot, a swollen tongue

that crests the dry roof of your mouth.

In the dark you can’t see if these changes

have truly happened; your hands feel heavy

and throb as if overnight they grew

three sizes. Your toes appear to be

missing from your right leg’s punctuation.

You want to whisper, help me,

but you can’t shape the words.

Perhaps you are like the rabbit

outside the fence, trembling in place,

having just escaped the hound’s

frustrated advances. You blend

with the dark like the rabbit’s hide

blends with the tree’s bark. Stay

very still and perhaps the dreams

won’t find you. Or, maybe, they are

already done with the hunt:

having transformed what they found,

having made you part monster.

If you listen to the shadows

in your room you can hear the dreams

turn from the fence of waking.

If you wait, they will lower their noses

to the ground and sniff out new prey.



Greet Again Your Failures

Create a space at the table,

even though they never really left.

Each one has brought a gift

carved from your heart.

Place these curios at the center,

next to the butter and spices.

You expect they’d be grotesque –

large and softly wet – but

they are small and solid as wood.

Marvel at their craft. Admire

their evident patience. Praise

your failures for what they’ve

wrought from your stubborn

foolish love. Give thanks.

Tear the bread, pass the morsels

chair to chair. Offer the cellar of salt.

Savor the wealth of each grain

as it dissolves on your tongue.



No Choice Left

I want a new song, birds. Sing me

something useful, a thread of music

I may use to stitch my torn self

back together. When you call

I want to respond in high and low

notes, as you do, acknowledging

our need and desire for both.

But I am sullen. There’s been

too much black dawn – a whole year

of slow mourning, creeping darkness

that melts to gray. Not enough sun.

Perhaps I should do as you do,

and practice patience, then wake

at a later hour: keep my eyes fused

shut like a nested egg that waits

to hatch – not stirring for anything

less than the correct season, the right

sunrise, when the air outside seems

answerable and there’s no choice left

but to destroy the shell that contains me.




About the author

Sarah Kain Gutowski is the author of Fabulous Beast: Poems (Texas Review Press), runner-up for the 2018 X.J. Kennedy Prize, winner of the 14th annual National Indie Excellence Award for Poetry, and a 2019 Foreword INDIES Finalist. She is also the author of a chapbook, Fabulous Beast: The Sow, published by Hyacinth Girl Press. She holds an MFA in poetry from New York University and a BA from James Madison University. Her poems have appeared in various print and online journals, including The Threepenny Review, So To Speak: A Feminist Journal of Language and Art, Painted Bride Quarterly, The Gettysburg Review, and The Southern Review.

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