Kelly McNerney


Many students will tell you that they hear the ocean in the seashell.
Actually, the dull roaring sound they hear is the echo of the blood moving inside their ear.                                
-Jennifer Lawson

It’s muggy in this room
and on the other side of this wall

a woman in pleasure
and now, of course, getting louder

plus the sound of drilling
plus a neighbor locking or unlocking their door

you still sound like
the ocean before a storm

it made sense
to hold a shell to my ear

an echo through a canyon,
where an animal used to live


Turned out

In the bedroom of sick and well,
living in squalor, we were born once upon a time.
                              What if I were a mendable tear?
                             (Why keep leaving?)

Trapped between scorned generations and something affordable.
Helplessly of my great grandmother.

I never divested myself of all my earthly things—
my sister’s were all stolen when she was passed out,

wearing shoes and makeup
on top of the covers.

Out the window— large grain silos and
alien windmills generating another course of action.

The story is that we have been accidental, 
raised on impulse and little foresight.

Held rigid between 2 tensions—
passion, and apathy bred by time.

Love, and the resentment bred by so much waiting…
Have we turned out so badly after all?


After studying Creative Writing at UC Santa Cruz, and Kelly went on to complete an MFA in Poetry at San Francisco State University in 2013.  In her time in at San Francisco State, she worked as the Poetry Editor and Editor-in-Chief of Fourteen Hills Literary Review.  Kelly currently resides in Beijing, China, where she continues to work as a Poetry Editor for Spittoon Literary Magazine. Her poetry has appeared most recently in Gesture Magazine, The Loreli Review, Verse Wisconsin, and she also works as a featured contributor for The Tusk.