Celebrating Poetry with Darlyn Finch Kuhn

Let’s continue our celebration of National Poetry Month with poet and storyteller Darlyn Finch Kuhn. Darlyn offers three poems on the theme of relationships. Darlyn describes poetry in this way:

I believe that poetry begins with concrete images and ends by evoking emotion. My poetry tends to be narrative; that is, it tells a story. The arc of my work seems to be images that have led to poems that have led to stories that have led to a book that is leading to a movie. My work finds the universal in the specific, and tends to focus on the two major poetic themes – love and death. I believe that life is bittersweet and precious because it has a beginning and an end, and that the love we share while we’re here is what makes the fact that it ends bearable.

Darlyn Finch Kuhn

These Feet

They are small and pale 
with nails of burnished peach
on the world’s prettiest toes
and a smattering of delicate blue veins
across the top

The bottoms 
on the other hand
require daily applications
of jasmine-scented lotion
after filing away at two 
stubborn calluses –
souvenirs of the miles 
they spend on the road 
in beat-up tennis shoes

The left ankle bears a scar
from the time it got caught 
in the spokes of my big brother’s bike
while he rode me on his handlebars
the way Mama told us not to do

It was not the first or last time
she’d be right about something 

These feet can
walk the line
or not, depending on my mood
pedal a bike for twenty-six miles
plod back and forth, back and forth 
with a wailing baby
down a darkened 2 a.m. hallway
and still 
dance in a way that
makes a man forget his name

One of the wisest things
a man ever snarled at me
Learn to stand 
on your own two feet

It was not the first or last time
he’d be right about something

I {Heart} My Wife

“I {Heart} My Wife”
the bumper sticker read
in the window of the pickup truck
ahead of me at the red light,
and I burst into tears
for no particular reason
I could explain
to the crossing guard on the corner
or even to the man driving the truck,
who looked quite ordinary,
and did not realize
those four happy words
could rip a woman’s heart out
under certain circumstances,
when she’s one man’s abscessed tooth,
and another’s dirty little secret.

Then I stopped to wonder,
as I blew my nose
and wiped my eyes,
whether the man had bought the bumper sticker
at all, or if his wife had perhaps
stuck it there,
in the window behind his head,
as a message to women like me,
whom she surely knows are sitting
at every red light
in every town,
wishing they could one day be
very best thing.

When Good Things Happen

You are so astounded
That something good has happened
When you hear your voice reading poetry
On the radio
And you get a goofy sort of haunted
Look about you that is half-giddy, half-terrified
As if waiting for that other
Chuck Taylor high top to
Kick you in the teeth
The way she did
The way life does.

But Babe,
I’m here to tell you
That your luck has changed,
The tide has turned,
Karma is a circle
And it’s your turn to dance
So strap on those
Shit-kickin’ silver-buckled boots
And sling your leg over the saddle
Of a low-riding Harley
Feel my lovin’ arms
Circling your waist
My small chest
Crushed against your back
My thighs hugging your hips
As you take that first long, looping turn
And crank the throttle
For the ride of your life.

Meet the Poet

Darlyn Finch Kuhn is a poet, short-story writer, journalist, and novelist who edits the Scribbles literary e-newsletter and produces book trailer videos. Her podcast, Scribbler’s Corner at River of Grass, features interviews with writers, artists, and filmmakers.

Her debut novel, Sewing Holes, available from Twisted Road Publications, won First Place in the published novella category of the FWA’s 2015 Royal Palm Literary Awards. She recently wrote a screenplay based on the novel.

In addition to her two poetry collections (Red Wax Rose and Three Houses) her work has appeared in literary journals, newspapers, magazines and online. Her poems have been featured on Poetic Logic on WMFE-FM, and been read by Garrison Keillor on the Writers Almanac. She was interviewed on World Radio Paris.

Darlyn teaches a journalism lab at UNF, works in the Communication Department at FSCJ, and directs the JaxbyJax Literary Arts Festival with her writer husband, Brad Kuhn.

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