Kelly R. Samuels

Pine Row Issue No. 7 Summer 2023 - Featured Poet

Eschewing the View for Quiet



Are we not to have any windows

you inquire, tired of the vigilant dog

barking. How is quiet too much to ask for?

You stomp around the shared rooms

shutting down the honeycomb blinds,

leaving us to imagine who walks by

on their way to the park. The dog cowers

beside me, knowing she’s been scolded

for what is bred and comes naturally.

There is no more blue sky

to be seen, nor the top of the crabapple

with its still bare branches. None of

the snow crystallizing on the boulevard.

Everything’s grown a bit dim and muted—

the passing of cars, or the yelp of another

dog from another yard, or your face.

In Paris, they grouse about the souped-up

motorcycles and scooters tearing through

intersections at all hours. The one man

says he’s moving away to where highways

become roads and then paths only

for hiking. Maybe there, there will be bird-

song heard over morning tea, or that

one mythical nightingale at dusk.

In the now transformed space, I look

to other vistas, thinking of my mother

as librarian, how she waxed the maple

shelves that held picture books

about winter nights, the startling

of an owl in a tree. I sit turning the pages

of my novel with the barest of rustling.

The dog dreams of running, kicking

her legs inaudibly.

* * * * * *

How Spoiled



How spoiled I was

whining to my mother

those nights she made do

by watering down

the marinara sauce.

She’d swirl tap water around

in the jar to get as much as

she could, to not waste

what could be had, even if

doing so led to dilution—bland

pasta with dry bread as a side. 

The three of us would sit

at the drop leaf table

in the kitchen, eating without

words while I thought on

other houses warm and light

and fragrant with fresh basil—

what she eschewed in the store

every time, seemingly favoring other

aisles stocked with those plain-

fronted cans. When I fell in love

the second time we bonded

over our childhood deprivations:

the coupons, the generic

honey oats, the dried onion flakes.

Had our palates been stunted?

Had I grown taller, if—? We threw

out words like miserly and cruel

as if we knew anything.


About the poems:  as shared by the poet

“How Spoiled” was prompted by talk of a looming recession and a recognition of how little we may understand about the financial struggles our parents have, especially when we are younger. I’ve read that many families neglect to openly discuss finances with their children for various reasons. My parents, for example, made only the occasional comment, such as, “Money doesn’t grow on trees.” Looking back, I see how so many of their actions were an attempt to do as much as they could with limited means.



“Eschewing the View for Quiet” grew out of the pandemic and how quiet streets were with fewer people traveling to work, and thus, less traffic. I think we sometimes don’t recognize just how much background noise there is in our lives or how it can affect our moods. Nor do we appreciate how quiet can be restorative for many people.

Kelly R. Samuels is the author of the full-length collection All the Time in the World (Kelsay Books) and three chapbooks: To Marie Antoinette, from, Words Some of Us Rarely Use and Zeena / Zenobia Speaks. She is a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee with work appearing in The Massachusetts Review, Court Green and RHINO. She lives in the Upper Midwest.


Read more here:

-- now accepting submissions for the next issue -- 

© Pine Row Press | privacy policy