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two poems /whitney koo

Updated: Apr 2, 2023


The only way to live is by a series of small deaths. A course on dying greatly, or whatever Rilke said. We teach courses on dying in the classroom, bellies down under a desk or a classmate. I don’t see where the greatest is. If life is like taking each ant from the hill and loading them onto little pink petal boats, and then placing those boats on the edge of a pond with the wind behind them, then let us stop suggesting it is meaningful.


An Elegy On The Day Of The Russian Invasion

I rake my baby out in a series of tightening and surrender.

A doctor holds my shaking thighs open,

it is a miracle any of us are here.

Who am I to wonder the living room on a bright day blotted out.

A ship abandons its crew;                        Where is god’s list.

Red soaked underwear held between a gloved thumb and finger like old comic

lifted out of cobweb in an attic, and on the same day elsewhere

a mother does not know how to lay her baby’s head back down in its blood.

Every evidence of loss is fragile and dirty.

There are three yellowed pregnancy tests folded and tucked into the sock drawer.

Babies smoked gorged tumbling from their mothers.

Buildings falling back like the walls of a soundstage.

If the end is indeed a threshold, then it moves in two directions in which we are all unimagined.


Whitney Koo is the founder and editor-in-chief of Gasher Press and a Ph.D. candidate in English – Creative Writing at Oklahoma State University. She is the 2018 poetry winner of the Tucson Festival of Books Literary Award. Her work has appeared in journals such as Colorado Review, American Literary Review, Bayou Magazine, Breakwater Review, and others. Originally from Arizona, Whitney currently resides in Lubbock, TX with her husband, Bonhak, and cat, Bunny. find her at

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