READINGS | Two by Kiley Lee


EDITOR’S NOTE: Twitter can be a whirlwind of woe. It can also be a place of discovery. I’ve made it a point to seek out poets, illustrators, essayists, photographers and other creatives who work in or are inspired by West Virginia. I recently came upon the work of poet, photographer, and illustrator Kiley Lee of Paden City WV. Here’s what she says of the pieces below ~ Douglas John Imbrogno

KILEY LEE: “’Canary Call’ was written about my hometown of Paden City and the water crisis that’s been an ongoing problem for decades. Industrial grade cleaners have been found in the city water supply, and even though it has repeatedly been found to be above the legally allowed limit, somehow the local government has gotten away with sweeping the problem under the rug. Steps are reportedly being taken to fix the problem now. The second poem, ‘Portrait of Recipients,’ speaks for itself. I’ve also included two photos taken in Paden City. The first is ‘Bigfoot is Blurry’ (the title is a nod to the late comedian Mitch Hedberg); and the second ‘After Candy Rain’ (another nod, this time to the WV rock band Hello June) is of an eerie midday fog over the Ohio River at Paden City Park.”

“Bigfoot is Blurry” | Paden City WV | photo by Kiley Lee

Canary Call

I couldn’t draw from my well
It’s been sullied with parachute attempts
to chemical clean my mountain peaks
to make sure creation doesn’t look like my cousin
to consummate a culture that never lived

How dare I learn my mother’s language
or put up lights and chimes
to remember which house is mine
or go against the flow
because my thirst will always have a price

Will living water wash the forks in roads
the shameful stains on backbone ridges
or the splintered shoulders swollen —
holy only because the gate was never closed?

These broken eye teeth search the skies
for some unknown warning
screaming from twisted lights and
cell phone signal call trees
“Tell two more people
death is coming”

“After Candy Rain” | Paden City WV | photo by Kiley Lee

“Portrait of Recipients”

How eyes see us
searching through forests and
over seas for something to
cut our teeth on
I draw them to edges
so we may live a full life

in the clearing
     in the taming
             in the sky

When our hands meet
over waves of extremes
who will speak?

We are all burning.


Kiley Lee is a Pushcart nominated poet and artist, with work in multiple publications and exhibitions across the United States. She’s from Almost Heaven, West Virginia, and loves staring at the clouds. She tweets as @KBogart10. See more of her work here:

Kiley Lee


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