kelly schirmann


the shores of the cosmic ocean

“We have a choice: we can enhance life and come to know the universe that made us, or we can squander our 15-billion year heritage in meaningless self-destruction."




I will tell you right now
we are nowhere near the beach
I’m so bored by women
getting bored with earth
& insisting their spirit
resemble a cold pagan star
We’ve over-imagined space
& now space is just American
No one can afford it
& everyone wants
just a little bit more
I’m bored by men
in their waterproof jackets
gesturing widely
at their version of the sea
If the face is soft & white
it belongs to a different era
that didn’t necessitate
a discussion of these words
I don’t know what to think
I am feeling tender feelings
for dated computer graphics
& the bygone era
of the seagull as metaphor
for the human spirit
No one has the right
kind of metaphysics
& I’m bored by that too
I could eat mushrooms
& go walk up that mountain
again, but there’s no certificate
for knowledge of the intangible
&, increasingly, I am starving
I’m bored by the world
for barely functioning
inside its own bad idea
By people just now noticing
that astronomy & astrology
are two completely different things
That we are Alone In The Universe
with Physics & Theology
That we only want
to label our increments
& then validate these increments
by publishing our findings
in something perfectly bound
It concerns me
that I will only be excited
when death comes for all of it
or a much smaller version of this
The man I love smoothing my hair
I’ll tell you right now
The universe is too big
to keep all of us in mind
It hides how it will kill us
while we beg for its water
It turns us gently away
from the place we think
we were born




Kelly Schirmann was born & raised in Northern California. She is the author of Popular Music (Black Ocean, 2016) & the co-author, with Tyler Brewington, of Boyfriend Mountain (Poor Claudia). She sings in the band Young Family & runs BLACK CAKE, a record label for contemporary poetry/recordings. She lives in Portland, Oregon, & at kellyschirmann.com.