Leatha Kendrick

Leatha Kendrick

Fayette County

Your Fear

Artist Statement: Fear of each other, fear of not having enough, fear of the unknown keep us separate and make us vulnerable to manipulation for someone else's greed or need. Naming fear and celebrating the fact that we are all woven together open the way ahead to a world of racial, economic, and environmental justice.

Now ask yourself— who might it serve that you

would grow downhearted? What do you choose

to see? What will your seeing make? The “news”

selected and relayed, mirrored and soon

a billion times its weight, weighs on the mind

that seeks it out. What is the new? The breath

just drawn, the thought not yet enfleshed, the kind

word being said, the stars that press unseen

overhead. “It is the unforeseen

upon which” Poe said, “we must calculate

most largely.” Impossible to separate

misery and joy-- the living edge of mystery.

Time’s unfolding, dauntless, holds you dear.

The universe has no need of your fear.

What Does a Heaven Require?


Could this be the Afterlife

our ancestors dreamed?

After all, our flesh

is nothing more

than the soil they tilled,

the molecules of air they breathed—

reassembled. What matter are we

        but theirs?

If the sum of this material world

holds true from the origin—

nothing created or destroyed.

Everything moving

from form to form,

we are

an afterlife.


Then what does this heaven

ask of us?

Our hours,

the freedom from want

some of us enjoy—

surely these are Eden’s longed-for ease,

a paradise most on this planet can’t conceive—or claim.

And, Hell’s alive here

in prisons we erect—

the skyless cells,

the “fix” we have to have,

no decent place we can

afford to house ourselves.

Still, some of us choose to live

what looks like salvation

locked away

in gated enclaves,

bank accounts.

Among our own kind.


Listen: Every living

multicellular thing every complex being

arose only after single cells embraced the alien:


making this poem

as well as cave art chariots bubble gum spiked heels Buicks


A mesh of us and not-us.

We’re each a little cosmos.

What is the gut even now

but upset,

bereft of its essential microbes?

We sing our brief chemical chorus.

Cellular, transient,

superior in no way

to the planet’s least particle.

Ode to Not Being in Charge

Dear weedy verge, dear wasted edge

unkempt along the sidewalk

thank you for your gift of bloom—

speedwell, field pansies, sun-

burst dandelion. Dear sturdy crown

of gold exploding in seed stars,

dear delicate faces lifted

to the light, dear blue eyes

tucked in rampant vining,

this is my letter back to you,

this is my thanks

to those who

let you be,

to everything that flowers

without expectations.

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About Leatha Kendrick

Leatha Kendrick’s fifth collection of poems, And Luckier, was published by Accents Publishing in April, 2020. Her poetry, fiction and creative non-fiction appear widely in journals including Tar River Poetry, Appalachian Heritage, New Madrid Review, the Southern Poetry Review, the James Dickey Review, the Baltimore Review, the Southern Women’s Review, and in anthologies: The Southern Poetry Anthology, Volume 3—Contemporary Appalachia; Listen Here: Women Writing in Appalachia; The Kentucky Anthology: 200 Years of Writing in the Bluegrass; and What Comes Down to Us – Twenty-Five Contemporary Kentucky Poets, among others. She lives and writes in Lexington, Kentucky.