Timothy O'Keefe Poems






A sinkful of dishes or a turned back in bed

feeds the system of quick and quiet



A root swells. 

A slab of sidewalk nicks a toe.  Then


a slack handshake

a chatty sister

a pyre lighting the lake

and the sudden rupture is inexplicable.  But


stop.  Feel it.  The urge

to kill a man

is a rat in a paper cage.

The urge to kill a man

is a fresh broom in the forest.




Very Large Array



I called in suspicion.  Walking home – a fogged

streetcar, fireworks to the east, the stars’

sweaty nest.  The flutter in your voice

was a stranger’s smile on the stairs.


I called in anger.  Rain and traffic, a basket of

rotten bananas, a splinter.

The crack in your voice was a match-head,

my tongue a trail of gasoline.


I called in desperation.  Skin-shiver, achy

Creole music, oceans clutching their aqua shawls.

The tick

      in your voice…


there is a place in New Mexico:

Very Large Array - telescopes

scrambling cosmic chatter.  Rattle-boxes

filled with snow.  Radio waves swim out

like snorklers scanning wraiths

of wet-electric.  Each scope-face

wheeling the cyclopean ear,

thirteen miles long.  It hears:

a lunar apogee

Plutonian lampposts

a supernova

made human.






Timothy O'Keefe has worked as a short order cook, museum archivist, shoe salesman, environmental consultant, and mover.  His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Denver Quarterly, Mid-American Review, 32 Poems, and Good Foot.  He was awarded a scholarship to attend the 2003 Catskill Poetry Workshop.  Currently, he is enrolled in The Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University on an MFA teaching fellowship.




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