Karen Kelsay

Karen Kelsay PictureBIO

Karen Kelsay lives in Los Angeles County, and is the founder and editor of the poetry magazine Victorian Violet Press. She has authored several books and chapbooks: Lavender Song (Fortunate Childe Publications 2011), In Spite of Her (Flutter Press 2010), Song of the Bluebell Fairy (Pudding House Publications 2010), A Fist of Roots (Pudding House Publications 2009), Somewhere Near Evesham ( The New Formalist 2009) and two full length collections, Dove on a Church Bench (Punkin House 2011), and Amytis Leaves Her Garden (White Violet Press 2012). She has been published in numerous anthologies, including Fire in the Pasture (Peculiar Pages 2011) a collection of 21st century Mormon poets. In 2012 she received the Fluvanna award from The Lyric and is a five-time Pushcart Prize nominee. Karen has been the featured poet in The New Formalist, The Nervous Breakdown, Russell Bittner’s Poet’s Corner, and A Motley Vision. Her work has appeared in The Flea, The Raintown Review, The Lyric, 14 by 14 Magazine, Trinacria, Tipton Poetry Journal, Medullah Review, The Foundling Review, Grey Sparrow, and many others.

Much from Little

She forms and threads small beads. At eighty-five,
Nothing much else makes her come alive.
Bright paisley colors, shining crystals add
So much to any outfit. Once she had
A life of travel – now she drives to shop
A distance of just thirty miles, nonstop,
To pick through findings, swirly patterned papers.
Once she gets home, she holds her needle, tapers
Edges; wraps and pastes, then lacquers them
In imitation of a precious gem.
All time is tarnished, only gradual changes
Occur as endless bead work re-arranges.
To leave with us some talent she would save
For gem encrusted garlands for her grave.


A Cemetery in Castle Combe

We wander through a graveyard near the church,
Where only leaves assemble on the mounds,
And ivy finds salvation beside tombs.
Two grosbeaks forage insects by the grounds.
Faint epitaphs are difficult to read,
Worn birth and death dates mark the vanished pride
Of men who lived one hundred years ago.
On random plots we make a bona fide
Endeavor to decipher phantom words.
Why do we care? These ancient souls are not
Our dead. Yet, threads of curiosity
Have drawn us to this wild, forsaken lot
Where lichen spreads its solace, like a mother,
Obscuring names of father, child, or brother.