Borges, Keats, & My Aunty


for Gail, d. August 2022

My aunty didn’t read poetry. No
real use for it. Give her the Idaho Press,
a grandkid, or a hummingbird feeder. She
lived in verse, rhyme, & metered time.

My aunty couldn’t spot alliteration, assonance,
or consonance. Hand her hot coffee, curlers, & a cold
Diet Coke to go. She’d rev and show her vanity
license plate – EXESSEV.

My aunty didn’t know blank verse from free.
She’d take ESPN or the NHL Channel for her Anaheim
Ducks — then cheer in lyrical, narrative,
& whimsical ballad.

My aunty didn’t read my poems. Her Seventy
stanza life offered conceits to metaphysic
masters; forty-five folios of mothering dissolved any
Augustine nods to human frailty.

Eyes like untitled poems surfacing from eddies
on Lake Powell. Aunty Gail. O my, Chevalier!
Like Borges on reading Keats, you were
the most significant poetic encounter of my life.


Candice Kelsey [she/her] is a poet, educator, and activist in Georgia. She serves as a creative writing mentor with PEN America’s Prison Writing Program; her work appears in West Trestle, Heimat Review, Poet Lore, and Worcester Review among other journals. Recently, Candice was a Best of the Net 2021 finalist and a Best Microfiction 2022 finalist. She is the author of Still I am Pushing (FLP ’20), A Poet (ABP ’22), a forthcoming full-length collection (Pine Row Press), as well as two forthcoming chapbooks (Drunk Monkeys’ Cherry Dress and Fauxmoir Lit). She has five and a half cats. Find her @candice-kelsey-7, @candicekelsey1, and

John Hampshire was born in Chicago, Illinois, in 1971. He is currently a Professor of Fine Art at the State University of New York Adirondack, where he has taught for the last 18 years. Among other institutions, he has also taught for the Oklahoma Arts Institute. John’s work has been exhibited at such locations as The Show Walls at 1133 Avenue of the Americas in NYC, The Fine Art Gallery at the State College of Florida, The Hunter Gallery in Middleton, Rhode Island, The Brattleboro Museum, and the Project Room at the Phoenix Gallery in NYC. John lives and maintains a studio in the former Church of the Holy Trinity in Troy, New York, and at Cornerstone Studios in NYC.