top of page
Screen Shot 2021-10-14 at 3.30.51 PM.png


Kendra DeColo

Dirty Talk


“Listen, even a lullaby can bleed” –Osip Mandelstam


Say my name like the last bright syllable

of olive in a martini glass, your tongue 


an eel deranged with moonlight

squiggling at the bottom of a gasoline-


dark sea. I’ve tested all the condoms,

filled them with champagne, imagined


a tiny house inside the reservoir tip 

where unborn children catch fireflies in a wet field,


their fingers pulsing with light

every time we play Pull-Out Roulette


or the latex doesn’t break, a choreography

of blackout and bioluminescence plagiarized


from an oyster’s bristled sheen. Love, we are ancient

as the first people who learned to screw standing up


against a pine tree. Only your murmurs can staunch

the fissures inside me. Touch me like an assassin


strokes the steps of a church. Say my name

until I glow, engorged and radiant


as a tick boasting her blood-swollen

hunger without shame.



To My First


“I should warn you, every guitar has its ghosts”- Patrick Rosal



Slick of muscle

and reverb lifted

from a musky case—


black and white

as a plastic cow’s hide,

udders strapped


with kegs, gold

foam spurting

into drunken mouths—


beneath my delusions

of James Brown 

and Little Wing


I played you with neon

in my blood, phosphor

dousing your neck,


a junky’s stammer

and scarlet twitch,

formaldehyde tongue


and red mowhawk

of the boy whose girl

I stole, sweet sticky


kiss, ellipsis

and staggered noon

hunting down


the last tingle

of electric teeth

and gun metal ache,


playing you until

my fingers bled,

until my bones shone.




The Perfect Aura



To have the confidence of a mannequin

stripped and starving on display


is half-way to being human as I am half-

way there most days, remembering


to be thankful for my teeth and good vision,

the taste of grapefruit and a woman’s


full voice singing fuck you  

as we pass briefly on the street,


the gift of invisibility granting me

another moment of freedom.


And then there are days when I envy

the plaster limbs poised in store windows, 


anemic auras grafted from steel

and artificial starlight, the un-desperateness


to live that will outlast us. My sister

tells me her aura has its own doppelganger,


smart as a radar looping around her inner-

self, her body shining like a car dealership.


She never worries someone will see

through the mesh of shaved metal, the red


halo of her wig. If I had her armor  

I would wear it like my favorite station


leaking repeat hits from a boom box,

slow and dangerous as a summer


verging on mayhem, loud enough

to remind every person I pass


that we were once a choreography

of particles glittering in the same


discotheque’s blackout, that says:

I am trying to transmit you


something, to reside in your ether,

not a confession but one long unfolding


salutation, like the sign at White Castle

whose message changes each Sunday


where I’m often stopped at a red light

wishing for someone’s hand


to touch me at the clavicle, to leave

a stain deep enough to last.

-from My Dinner with Ron Jeremy, Third Man Books (2016), selected by POW Spring Guest Editor, Luke Johnson


KENDRA DECOLO is the author of My Dinner with Ron Jeremy (Third Man Books, 2016) and Thieves in the Afterlife (Saturnalia Books, 2014), selected by Yusef Komunyakaa for the 2013 Saturnalia Books Poetry Prize. Her poems and essays have appeared in American Poetry Review, Tin House Magazine, Waxwing, Los Angeles Review, Bitch Magazine, VIDA, and elsewhere. She is a recipient of a 2019 Poetry Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and has received awards and fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, the Millay Colony, Split this Rock, and the Tennessee Arts Commission. She is currently writing a sports comedy and is co-host of the podcast RE/VERB: A Third Man Books Production. She lives in Nashville, Tennessee.

bottom of page