Before I Walk Out the Door, 
	I Grab My Switchblade

Because sadness wears a leather jacket, I carry
    a butterfly knife— 
all weapons should have names so tender

—I know a woman who sliced the tops 
of her thighs while telling her teenage daughter
how wonderful the world was

like loving the butterfly while pulling off your own wings
holding the hand of a toddler and dragging along the devil
	with the other
feeding dolphins while wrapped in fish netting

maybe this is why I keep a switchblade in my bra
you never know who needs freeing or who is drowning 
    in what’s been thrown away

when I see this woman in her cargo shorts setting a blanket out 
     on a blacktop beach I sit next to her and tie us together

with haloes of fireflies
with plastic bags and twist ties
with daisy chains
with the underside of a cloud

from the top of a mountain if you look down
if you turn yourself to another 
if you stare too long at the shadows of women
you can hardly tell us apart.

Men Write Us Love Poems
     'Tis true; for you are over boots in love.
           The Two Gentleman of Verona

Tonight, my muse wants to put her mouth 
on my poem. As I write she bites the rhubarb 
galette, says she wants a Kelli of her own. 
As if. As if we could buy creation like a clock, 
tick tock tick tock. What’s the secret to being 
a wildflower? A distinction from weeds. 
In a superbloom, we’re more likely to avoid 
the pantofles of the careless, the lawnmower
men. Sometimes I hope my hallucinations 
include sandwiches and slam dancing 
at a Shakespeare festival because dear Bill 
had only 144 speaking parts for women 
in his plays. Let me be the one who holds 
the dagger and safely return it to its sheath. 
Let me place the poison high on the shelf. 
Our voices echo over balconies—we do not 
need to be compared to a summer’s day, we’re 
already the sun; we are everything that blooms.

Ways to Fly

Back from the second ring of Saturn she points 
to a clothesline covered in cobwebs she found inside 
the second ring of the patriarchy. Today, a blowback of blue, 
blue warblers of a nation. Who tied our wings together, 
who stole our feathers? When she says, I love a woman who loves 
a little destruction, and I want to remodel my life, become her 
green delight of grass, untamed, an uncommon patch 
left untouched by wildfire. And when I fall into the burning
woods of her, she says, The universe is our sideshow—how
easy it is to be dazzled by the meteor landing in a neighbor’s yard.
We are praying to the sky but unlike those who believe 
they have sinned, we pray like joyful saints and praise the summer 
of flower crowns and the girls who called themselves sunshine, 
who called themselves a verb—so wild, so many ways 
to fly away above what’s left of the forest that continues to burn.

About the Author:

Kelli Russell Agodon is the cofounder of Two Sylvias Press and lives in a sleepy seaside town in Washington State on traditional lands of the Chimacum, Coast Salish, S’Klallam, and Suquamish people where she is an avid paddleboarder and hiker. She serves on the poetry faculty at the Rainier Writing Workshop, a low-residency MFA program at Pacific Lutheran University. Her fourth collection of poems, Dialogues with Rising Tides was published by Copper Canyon Press in 2021.You can write to her directly at or visit her website:

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