Let's make a red house. Okay? I‘ll do.You too. Leave the door open, a flap of manila paper, and paste the large face of a girl, pearl buttons on her sweater, underneath. She'll swell against the border. Give the windows white shutters, two for each over the brick bottom, cross each pane carefully in black. Four by four. Is there something brewing inside? Yes, maybe, but the place looks safe and right from here.

Who lives there? Do you know? I do. Much later, next door, a woman is beheaded. Her head is found in a box. Behind the house, another's shot.When brew brews, when clouds form, when cups fill, when crash starts, insides leak out, damp on the stoop. Girls' faces are the first to go. Blue, they fit into new boxes. Chairs won't embrace them.

You say maybe the head can be pasted back. Maybe the neck can be fastened. It's only paper.The houses have no intricate designs.The door should close. Every chest knows. Nothing keeps me in.You might say leave. Don't. Do.

Old World

You think there will be time
to find your name, discover the romance underneath, scrape away

the rubbery stuff.

The tattered ragged strata of bold cornflowers,

ivy winding from tan planters,
roosters crowing from western fences

will peel away.

you won't be afraid.

the holds of powder, vacant bubbles,

You'll touch real wood.

How To Build A Spirit House

Make the roof open, slats of balsa, notched and interlocked.Work on the walls and ceilings first, attach a bit of carpet. Leave the center hollow, a place for the departed. Even a drawer in the chest if the ribbing is auspicious. Small objects can remind you of the mission, to moor yourself with them and nothing else, to call them home.

Jean Kane is the winner of the 2013 Otis Nebula Poetry Prize. Her winning manuscript is now available here in book form. Kane was born in Brooklyn and was taken to the midwest ten years later. She now lives in New York, where she teaches literature and writing at Vassar College. She writes poetry, fiction, and critical essays. American Short Fiction, the Georgia Review, Hotel Amerika, and Prairie Schooner have published her work. Her current manuscript is called My Kennedy Women.

Images by Elfie Hintington courtesy of the L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah.

Copyright © 2016, Otis Nebula Press. All rights reserved.