For The Headless

By Ken Haas


We have no name for you
without reference to the parted
as if those famous subtrahends
were your loss
The Baptist’s on a silver plate
lion’s agape on the mantel wall
Mary Stuart’s bouncing ear on ear
toward the feet of English lords

And we think you unwholesome
cast shirtless in a Baghdad alley
flayed on a barnyard door
or like the Bolshevik rabble
spider leg tickling a schoolboy’s palm
or stubborn by habit
Goliath’s cropped armor
still smiting the desert air
bound Nanjing shadow refusing to fall

Although we have no place for you
you do have your moments
chicken husk’s ecstatic dance
horseman’s tear though Sleepy Hollow
servants’ carnal tryst beneath the stairs
and you can return
in the incubi of axe-men
from the decks of the towers
a view of history.

Ken Haas was born in New York City; went to college, law school, and business school at Harvard University; and received an MA in English literature at the University of Sussex, U.K., where he wrote a thesis on Wallace Stevens and the “poetry of place.”  Ken now lives in San Francisco where he is a partner in a healthcare venture capital firm.  An avid skier, bike rider, yoga practitioner, and volunteer, he has created (and continue to sponsor) a weekly poetry writing program at UCSF Children's Hospital, which employs two poet-teachers from California Poets in the Schools.  Ken’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in Alabama Literary Review, Caesura, CHEST Journal, Forge, Freshwater, Hawai’i Pacific Review, Helix, Natural Bridge, Pigsah Review, Red Wheelbarrow, Schuylkill Valley Journal Of The Arts, Squaw Valley Review, Stickman Review, Tattoo Highway, and Wild Violet. His poetry has been anthologized in The Place That Inhabits Us (Sixteen Rivers Press, 2010) and the Marin Poetry Center Anthology (2012).  Ken has participated in the Squaw Valley Community of Writers, studied with Bob Hass, Brenda Hillman, Dean Young, Lucille Clifton, and C.D. Wright, as well as numerous other workshops led by Sharon Olds, Dorianne Laux, Joe Millar, Ellen Bass, and Richard Jones. 

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