Three Poems by Kelly Grace Thomas

Sharks have Survived 4 out of 5 Mass Extinctions

As the world kills
and remakes

who it can. The riptide
of revision. They fin through

our mistakes, tsunamis
of trash, plagues

of plastic. Witness the reef
once busy with rainbow.

Now bleached. Barren.
The ocean, a eulogy. Sharks don’t die

like the rest of us. Can’t cancer
or catch a cold. Heal faster

than any manmade hurt.
All cartilage, they fail to fossil.

Humans don’t own history. Sharks do.
Began their rule 100 million years

before the first tree. Dear Shark,
I know everything ends

but you.
You are still here.

So let the willows
weep. The oak question

its roots. Let time rest
inside these jaws.


Ants Don’t Sleep but Take 8-minute naps Twice a Day

Because there is always a queen // somewhere a clock // to punch
Capital // to chase // The workers // mostly female // tunnel to prove
their worth // Place // They labor // lugging 20 times //their weight // Wait
for exhaustion // to break // The midnight of work // never done // Minutes
soldiered // for an empire they will build // but never own // The colony
never complete // The slow business // of putting yourself last


A Cockroach Can Live for a Week Without its Head

Infamous for their ugly,
can spend a month without

sustenance. (No food.
No water.) Midnight body.

Blood built without
vessels, they bunker. Camp

in each crevice, forage
at night. Survive off scraps

of darkness. In Hiroshima,
cockroaches were found

feasting, 1000 feet from
where man was remade

to dust. A taunting continuation.
A rash you can’t out-scratch. Even when

severed, the cockroach head lingers,
waves its antennae. As if to say, go ahead,

call me a stain. A creature
dancing in your ruins. But look

at how long we’ve lasted
eating at the edges

of everything
you earned.


Kelly Grace Thomas is an ocean-obsessed Aries from Jersey. She is a self-taught poet, editor, educator and author. Kelly is the winner of the 2020 Jane Underwood Poetry Prize and 2017 Neil Postman Award for Metaphor from Rattle, 2018 finalist for the Rita Dove Poetry Award and a multiple pushcart prize nominee. Her first full-length collection, Boat Burned, was released with YesYes Books in January 2020. Kelly’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in: Best New Poets 2019, Los Angeles Review, Redivider, Muzzle, Sixth Finch and more. Kelly is the Director of Education for Get Lit and the co-author of Words Ignite. She lives in the Bay Area with her husband Omid.