Katharine Coles’ eighth collection of poems, (Solve for) X, will be released in 2022 by Turtle Point Press, which also published her book of essays, The Stranger I Become: on Walking, Looking, and Writing, in June 2021. 2018-19 Poet-in-Residence at the Natural History Museum of Utah and the Salt Lake Public Library for the Poets House FIELD WORK program, she has received awards from the US National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities, and National Science Foundation, as well as the Guggenheim Foundation.  She is a Distinguished Professor at the University of Utah.

Still Living in My Head

1.  I grow used to the way I come to

Myself then go in time, as one fire

Detonates another, ignition

And spark, idea’s charge

Lighting a path and laying

Its own land.  Feel an eye

2.  Scanning; will I ever know

How to read what may go

Missing or wrong or what

Structure makes the abstract

Work when thought becomes

Mist or a kind of breathing?  If

3.  The world arrives as it does, un-

Curatable, piecemeal and incurable

Flash at a time, to me

It repairs into whole body

Where I forget to see myself

Thinking.  So my rooms fill

4.  Windows with delight and air

And hold dark corners

Tight, and this other

Thing, alien and full

Of shadows, could also

Make pleasure a kind of space.


young, needing a bath, running hot and cold.

When I spoke my truth to power and raised

Armies with a flick of my wrist.  When elect

-ricity moved my body forward.  However does

Fervor appear?  In error, in a flash.  When

Painters wanted to paint me and poets

Sang my praises, when I imagined

Nations bent to my will or to God’s

Whatever it was, when I was all my own

Sex and needed nobody else’s

Touch to my illuminate my body in

-side out.  I mean, where did that time

Go?  If I survived it.  Almost in my head

If I didn’t consume myself with flame.