Last week we published the portrait of a poet devotedly simplifying someone else’s life with “Cleaning Out M’s Garage,” by Pamela Ahlen. This week we offer her take on what collecting means. Poets are comfortable with contradictions—and in fact the good ones, like Ms. Ahlen, often offer them as facets of a whole. Fall is a good time to scoop up windfalls. Here’s a beautiful one.


Red Kazoo

Gather every little thing—
angel’s wings and tulip shells,
black stones, white stones,
the purple feather laughing at your feet,
more purple than pickled beets.
Luxuriate in its beetness, its daffydility.
Place it next to the zebra key chain
and the rabbit’s foot
in your cabinet of curios,
next to the Mai Kai matches,
the piece of driftwood shaped like Ohio,
the scribbled-on scrap: Love You.
Who are You? And who am I?
I’m a five-leaf clover, a damselfly,
a red kazoo tootling a zany song.
I’m the magpie behind that tree,
hunting the holy.

“Red Kazoo” is from the chapbook
Gather Every Little Thing, Finishing Line Press. Published here with the poet’s permission.


Patricia AhlenPamela Ahlen is program coordinator for Bookstock (Woodstock, Vermont), one of three Vermont literary festivals. She has organized literary readings for Osher (Lifelong Education at Dartmouth). Pam received an MFA in creative writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Her poems have most recently appeared in Bloodroot, Birch Song, Bohemia, and The Sow’s Ear. She is the author of the chapbook Gather Every Little Thing (Finishing Line Press).


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