New Poems


To Kieran Kealy

Fifty-one days ago, a man dies
at eighty-four; it's nothing new.

You haven't even heard, 'til now,
by accident; you wonder if

he just lay down, gave up the heavy
weight of age. Oh, what matters now

what came before? The candle's out.
The fire is lost. No, you are told,

there is no way to contact him.
You can't put a book in the post.


Inspired by Kelly

It is a holy thing to make men blush!
To bring still waters out of stingy stone,
And, with the frisky flitting of a thrush,
Flay flesh—pink, plump, and pulsing—to the bone.

The old men you must oft abash the most!
For them, each carnal colloquy's a slap
For, as they wait to slip away a ghost,
They do forget the pleasures of the strap—

Or whip, or kiss, or touch, or tempt, or tease—
And now deem all these matters an affront
To decency. They think they know what's sleaze,
What parts of lust must linger undiscussed.

And yet, you sane men always miss my point
When on my cockerels you wish swift death,
Deride each pearl which juicy clams appoint,
And damn sweet dampness to your dying breath.

Ironic how your issue's very little.
You must, my darlings, be a tad less lit'ral.

The Hole

To Greg Brown

You're definitely in the hole.
You have been in the hole before.

Into the hole you fall by chance,
By accident, by circumstance.

The problem is, when you are in it,
You cannot win it.

There isn't e'er a guarantee
That of the hole you will be free.

And yet, Her Holiness, the hole,
Has smaller holes within her walls,

And so, within the pitch-black quiet,
You start to climb it.


To Sasha Stepanova
and Becky Ellis

Your phone never rings
because you made it a mute.

You know when you check
the messages, there will be none.

Or a rasped, echoed response
that commutes from a scream to a question.

If they only knew
that you need love like light—

If they only saw
that you are as full of love

as the air itself
is full of longing unseen—

Invisible and indivisible
you move in the rafters.

Their friendship, it flows
around you like rivers.

So you stand, your back full
of small sunning lizards,

with the stolid love
of a stone.

We Were Hateful People

Three copies of _We Were Hateful People_
Click to Enlarge

This collection of poems traces five interweaving stories, or perhaps a story in five parts:

A man from a faraway land meets an impossible woman on an island. this town is small / and full of curves and hills and rises A man falls in love; a creative union forms, followed by marriage. the night is an orgasm on wheels / festooned with dirt and peo­nies A man faces the sound and the fury of his own mind, and another's. everything can collapse at any moment / th moist brown earth opens up & eats you A man and a woman suffer; a marital union dissolves creatively. th wife coils into a snake / th mind coils into a snake A man uses his poetic craft to make the island his own.

The poems in this book, written, compiled, and edited between 2021 and 2023, delve into and confront cultural and linguistic otherness, closeted queerness, neuro­divergence, trauma, and mental illness.

In this collection, I pay tribute in content and form to the poetic and publishing practices of the 1970s, from the elegant typesetting of every letter in the print edition to the exploration of the creation, assumption, and performance of alter and subaltern egos that runs through these poems. Read about JLRB Press.

Where to Buy



DRM-Free ebook

From the Back Cover

This is what Greg Brown has to say about We Were Hateful People:

A passionate, energetic, defiant, and occasionally fero­cious collection of poems about the dis­solution of a marriage, sex, the frustrations of selfhood, the limits of language itself. By turns allusive and elusive, We Were Hateful People gathers together a rowdy party of influen­ces: Eliot, Ginsberg, Cum­mings, Cooperman. (Cooper­man especially.) But the book is powerfully, idio­syncratically, a product of Khmelnitsky's vision: Playful, porno­graphic, full of heartbreak and wit. And always striking in its fi­gures and shapes. Khmelnitsky writes sonically, his ear to the page, crafting lines of propulsive sound and fury, and his experiments in forms are eclectic, ecstatic. (Like all the best poets, he writes as if his life depends on it.) Khmelnitsky is a cannibal, fee­ding on the body of poetry, fueling verse at once hot-blooded and aching with pathos.

Or from whom.

The neighbours' kids, who wake me
with the dntz! dntz! dntz! of a bounced ball.

They don't have the concept of time.

I gloat a little. I mourn
that day they'll see living is Pyrrhic.

A prison, in itself withheld.

When they ask me about you,
I don't tell them about having to

strain the heart for no good reason

again. I don't talk about
lessons learned (as if one could ever).

No, just as well, I don't quite see

what they mean when they say that
time flees,

Last Day

To Matt

A red beard.
A face as true as light.
A shirt full of leaf and fruit.

Where might you find him,
always industrious, never desperate?

A flat palm pounds
the wooden bar in confirmation
and turns to the next.

What canna do you for?

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