Kristin Garth




You begin a kneeler.  Prostrate before two temples,

without crosses just losses, lace collars, buttons

to a collar bone, a menagerie of marigolds

a polyester meadow you hide your demonic design.

You hear it all the time.  Whispers/side-eyed

chest glances, inappropriate brief romances

of the mailman/part-time priests, your father’s

best friend – & him, too.   He tells you what to do.

How to close your eyes, to surrender, plead

politely, a little lady, to his higher power

expecting nothing in return for a humble offering

of baby flesh you cannot contain in any Sunday School

dress.  You become, for him & in spite of him a


There are so many layers he has touched you.

Remove only outermost for other men’s money.

The first time you do is baptism of hedonism

& flame.  Your skin in neon glistens shame,

five million bonfires inside pores they bore

relentless into your smallest spaces with x-ray eyes.  

Yet you’re alive.  First foray in flames,

a naked new name.  It’s strange & the same --

a game with rules, tools & fools who feel.  Even you.

There are so many layers he has touched you.

It’s deeper than clothes, sin & skin.  

If you could get to skeleton, maybe you could

begin again & so you peel.




Half-Finished Houses


Half-finished houses are suburban caves

you pull me in to misbehave. A will-

be window arch, the sawdust fresh shaved,

invites trespass midnight, slab initialed,

a small of back engraved.  You kick away

the nails, the two by four, debris.  Open

me where they will watch TV, and you say

in whispers “welcome home” — one more broken

thing you will never own.  Wandering streets,

found, just like me — new construction, exposed

circuitry.  Timorous in plastic sheets,

I am beneath you, deflowered, bulldozed.

You will find another when this one’s through.

You like unfinished things to wander through.






You leave the beach.  They wanted you to teach &

you did as Puritans prescripted, directed

at least for a second – or a year then crossed a bridge

to Pensacola towards autonomy & topless cheers.  

You peel five years, a trillion tears, two apartments

& a house, two feline ghosts (arson & leukemia) whose

haunts are close and quiet, as a mouse.  Arson, one more

time, true crime is let inside your little life.  An atheist,

for you, leukemia is criminal new – scientific, insoluble.  

Disease is Manson, Bundy, Bateman without a fury or a

face.  You feel displaced.  Not in Pensacola at all –  instead

maybe a movie & you have found your way inside of it.  

It’s you, Faye & Jack, directed through iconic noir

frames by a pedophile.  Pensacola is just a movie called


which if you could get out of it, you will tell everyone

means rigged deal,  a never changing nightmare of rich

monster fathers who make women into screechers

of truths that two hours to decipher like:  daughter is sister.

Two hours to untangle trauma that, for a woman,

is biology & life.  In Chinatown, it is daughter/sister.

In Pensacola, it is daughter/wife.  A slip of lips from broken

hips, so high on morphine, he’ll say it to an emergency

room doctor.  “This is my wife,” & it will be you, his

oldest daughter.  A noir revelation to a doctor you save

from Chinatown, a shake of a head and a smile.  It is your

style.  He’s a do-gooder with hearts & hips to heal.  

One right now.  He doesn’t need to know he lives in

Chinatown, & he won’t.  Doesn’t even live, like you,

in Pensacola.  At least not today.

Kristin Garth is a kneesock enthusiast and a Best of the Net nominated sonnet stalker.  In addition to Tiny Flames Press, her poetry has stalked magazines like Glass, Five:2: One, Anti-Heroin Chic, Former Cactus, Occulum, Luna Luna, Yes & many more.  She has a chapbook, Pink Plastic House (Maverick Duck Press), two forthcoming: Pensacola Girls (Bone & Ink Press, Sept 2018) and Shakespeare for Sociopaths (The Hedgehog Poetry Press Jan 2019).  Her full length, Candy Cigarette, is forthcoming April 2019 (The Hedgehog Poetry Press). Follow her on Twitter @lolaandjolie, her weekly poetry column ( and her website (