Laura Kiernan

Laura Kiernan Poems


My skin, the jacket of my spirit, is a patchwork quilt to be worn for warmth.

The rough redness of my dry hands shows the signs of premature aging from all the writing I do while my hands are cold.

I sing words that do not exist
In a language that is not real
Belonging to a people not of our world
I sing in tongues though I have no religion


When I checked on my poems
A surprise was there
And it concerned me so
That I gripped my hair

The classes I attended today
Were French, Victorian Literature, and math
But no one learned anything
Because no one really learns at college

Have you ever noticed
How tired men
Walk defeated

There are certain times
When the wind gets high
And I tumble around
Waving my arms

I have tried and tried and goddammit, I can't figure it out
Because who I am is hidden to even myself
I wear the pale, pink skin of my French mother
And the black hair and eyes of my Navajo father


To live in the haze of a permanent depression
Is also to live in the haze of lies
Because when I hold down a job, it's just for the money
Not for the satisfaction it gives me

Good thing I wasn't Pocahontas
I'm not very diplomatic
And I'd have pissed off the English
And probably lost us even more land

With the grassy Neil Young in my ears
And the rootsy Nickel Creek on the next track
I feel like I belong on this empty road
Even though I'll probably fail all my classes

I have starved my stomach for six weeks
For six weeks I have only craved water
Searching for absent soul at the bottom of the glass
I pretend the water forms a river that carves its way through my body

I went to my friend's house for supper
And her mother cooked roasted chicken with herbs
And fried potatoes with spices
And crisp green beans wrapped in bacon and sprinkled with brown sugar

(I just found out that Brautigan has a very similar poem...same title, similar pattern. I had never heard of Brautigan before today and I hope everyone recognizes that I wasn't trying to infringe on anything. I'm still keeping this poem up, however, because I like it.)

Just because
You hang a feather

I watched two friends pass a joint back and forth
And take turns drinking big swallows of rum

They offer the joint to me

Today I shaved off every strand of my hair
Watching the long, blue locks make a pool at my feet
I did it to start over
To let it grow back like my father's hair


What would it mean
If I called up my mom
And stayed in her house
For the next five years?

There is a pretty girl
Who sits three seats behind me
In French class
With hair to her thighs

Laura Kiernan Biography

I was born in Seattle, Washington to a Navajo father and a French mother.

Of all things.

I have suffered a lifelong identity crisis, speaking French at home and English everywhere else and looking like a perfect hybrid of both my parents, who divorced when I was twelve.

I've been writing ever since, at least a poem a day, and about 95% of them are about being Indian.

I study English and I hope to be a published writer one day, with the majority of whatever I earn going to fund education on reservations.

The Best Poem Of Laura Kiernan


My skin, the jacket of my spirit, is a patchwork quilt to be worn for warmth.

The rough redness of my dry hands shows the signs of premature aging from all the writing I do while my hands are cold.

The pale, transparent English skin on my legs my never brown except in scaly patches where the sun hits the bulging calf muscles I have developed from walking everywhere I go in flat shoes.

My breasts shine pale and pink, the soft pillows for children's napping heads.

My neck goes red when I am angry and white when I am sick.

On my feet, the quilt has its flaws. The tough and wrinkled soles of yellow-white spots clash with the peach toes and ankles.

But my face, oh my face, oh my poor, mismatched face, it is the part of the quilt sewn by a blind woman.

My perfect forehead of unwavering peach and matching temples fade into ruddy cheeks with brown polka dots for freckles.

Where my cheeks sink so deeply thanks to Anorexia's hold on me, they turn almost green with shadow and veins.

On my shin and nose are little patches of bright pink surrounded by olivey-white peachness, where a child spilled her watercolors on the quilt (which she wasn't supposed to be using as a dropcloth anyway) .

My face is a mesh of a dozen countries and a hundred generations.

My face reflects my mother's pink, peach, white, soft European tones.

My face reflects my father's rich olive, tan, sun-fed complexion.

My skin, the jacket of my spirit, is a patchwork quilt to be worn for warmth.

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