Two Poems by Kathryn de Lancellotti

Things We Do A mother crushes each bone in her daughter’s foot with a rock

before wrapping it in silk. She sticks a metal rod in her mouth to save the tongue.

Flat footed girls never marry. /

A woman finds a coat hanger deep inside her closet. She fishes out every seed until she bleeds. Here, it’s always winter,

fresh powder covers the stains. / A girl’s thirteenth birthday

today. Her father, the butcher, sharpens his blade on a marble slab. He’ll mutilate the clitoris—

prepare for the feast. /

A daughter dances for her father until the head of a prophet is served

on a silver platter.

She does this for all

who’ve been silenced in the steeple,

the bedroom, the market. Does this

for the misuse of God’s name.


A man sees a child standing by a well, desires

to fill his cup, asks for a drink. She pours, he drinks, wants more,

hold her down

beneath an olive tree, takes her virginity.


A god whispers in a man’s ear— demands his first born replaces a lamb. Do you know what he does to his children? Think you can run someplace he can’t?


A friend needed the money, so she got naked, tied her lover to a chair, cut his hair. What choice does a woman have?


Notre Dame Was on Fire, but Found Structurally Sound

The way it went up in flames is a mystery.

The smoke alarm went off, just once, then silence.

Coins clinked in confessional cups, then silence.

Men drank the wine, ate the bread, no, the bodies

of circumcised boys. Silence.

How sweet the sound

of a crackling castle. How fitting,

only the rich talk to God.

This building is falling down, down,

it’s falling and I wonder how Fathers stay silence.

The fire ate the evidence: little white gowns lit

like wicks from Hell.

Devout Ones pay your penance.

Fog the mirrors with your prayers, your cries for forgiveness.

I’m done watching the patriarchy burn,

but never fall to the ground.

Done putting their fires out—

The same old news: The structure remains.

Kathryn de Lancellotti is a Pushcart Prize nominee, and a former recipient of the Cowell Press Poetry Prize and the George Hitchcock Memorial Poetry Prize. Her poems and other works have appeared in Chicago Quarterly Press Review, The Catamaran Literary Reader, The American Journal of Poetry, Quarterly West, The Bind, Cultural Weekly, Rust + Moth and others. Her debut chapbook Impossible Thirst will be forthcoming with Moon Tide Press in 2020. Kathryn resides in Harmony, California with her family.