Bada Bing Bada Boom (and other poems)

Bada Bing Bada Boom

He was so damn good—
had a look, cocky smile, a lock of hair
loose across his forehead,
dark eyes that could melt metal.

He’d saunter up, smelling of heat
and lightning, move in, lips to my ear.
One finger, trailing my cheekbone
and downward, firing me up.
A living room chair, our kitchen table,
various lamps and half-filled
mason jars, fell prey to our fervor. 

Until they didn’t. Until his unkempt
hair and juvenile gyrating grew tiresome,
his pranks predictable.
There were mouths to feed, bills to pay,
his excuses an endless replay
of teenage tantrums and there I was,
working my ass off for chump change,
a bag full of if onlys.

Mostly a Cage is Air

His fingers, cold as metal,
locked across her mouth, 
clumps of her feathers			
wrenched from their sockets,
she tucks herself, like a folded note 
into a shadowed roost, between 
the stairs and her small iron gate,
dreams a billow of sky, wings, 
perpetual winds.

Some Smiles Are All Teeth

It came on me like the darkening 
of day. He was handsome,
it was late, his lopsided grin, 
the band, the booze, his Chevy King Cab, 
airconditioned, backseat leathered 
and wide, his fingers thick, 
tongue a freaking bang-fanger. 

He knew exactly when to shut up.

We staggered back inside,
the smell of fireworks 
and detonations all up inside us.
She stood there, wraith-like,
hang-dogged but tearless.
Infant on one hip, toddler
fist-clinched to the other,
said I bet you think you’re special.

Me Oh, My Oh

The pond below the house reflects
heaven no matter the weather.
A pair of Canada geese park themselves
along the edge, honk disapprovals
as me and Sadie Jae fly by

in her Jeep four-by-four, singing
Jambalaya, crawfish pie and a filet gumbo.
Wind wicks our ponytails, prickles
our sun-burned shoulders, pilfers

our whiskey breath. We spin ruts into
the lower pasture, dart in, out of the pines,
come to a slide-into-home-plate stop, inches
from the front stoop, our laughter lawless.

Times when I go low,
I summon that sizzley summer,
ear to the wind, listen 
for Sadie’s spicy Cajun yodels.


  • As Poet Laureate of Ohio, Kari Gunter-Seymour focuses on lifting up underrepresented voices including incarcerated adults and women in recovery. She is an artist in residence for the Writing the Land project, a Pillars of Prosperity Fellow for the Foundation for Appalachian Ohio, and the founder/executive director of the Women of Appalachia Project and editor of its anthology series Women Speak. Her anthology I Thought I Heard a Cardinal Sing: Ohio’s Appalachian Voices received the 2023 “Book of the Year Award” from the American Book Fest. Her work has been featured in Verse Daily, World Literature Today, The New York Times and Poem-a-Day. Her third full-length collection of poetry, Dirt Songs, is published by EastOver Press.

  • Stills from the film Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde a 1931 American pre-Code horror film, starring Frederic March and directed by Rouben Mamoulian. March plays a possessed doctor who tests his new formula that can unleash people's inner demons. The film is an adaptation of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the 1886 Robert Louis Stevenson tale of a man who takes a potion which turns him from a mild-mannered man of science into a homicidal maniac.