PoetryIssue 21 | October 2014

Three poems by Athena Kildegaard

Lucian Freud at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art

On the west side of the Øresund, just south of Hamlet’s castle—
Kronborg—where Danish kings demanded obeisance in the form
of tolls and bowed masts, the closest thing to prostration
on the water, the museum commands a plain view across the sound.

We looked at a portrait of a man in a suit who held his straight-
backed chair in a vise grip. We looked at a naked woman
lying across a bed, almost tilting off, her various parts—knees,
tits, shoulder—like apricots tumbling across a bumped table,

but not quite falling off. And then we came to a portrait of a friend,
a large man with muscular calves. No duty or compulsion. He stood
in a corner, he’s so annoying, on a veneered refectory table,
though instead of bronze, gray oil, and instead of a table, he bores

me stiff, a tall box, so that we looked up at him, at his pudgy stomach
fringed in dark hair, at his oddly small head, though not really, it was
the perspective, now I can afford to lose, at his cock angled and pointing
in the direction the man does not look. I used to find death. His feet

are crossed. He could fall off. What would we do? There we’d be
with a large naked man lying at our feet. Daydream. Help him up,
grab his clammy hand, wait for him to balance on one knee and push up,
his belly wriggling a little, his gray cock pointing. When I was younger

I had more to lose. The postcard of the pointing man I bought and stuck
above my desk. Compulsion, yes. Duty, no. I like to look at his belly.
It could be mine. It looks better from back here. We left the Louisiana
and drove north to our rented room on the sound to lie still in the dusk.

(The italicized words come from an article by Merope Mills about Freud that
appeared in The Guardian, September 22, 2011)

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About the author

Athena Kildegaard has lived in Sydney, Australia, Guanajuato, Mexico, Roskilde, Denmark, and several cities in the U.S.  She is the author of Rare Momentum, Bodies of Light, and Cloves & Honey.

Read our current issue:


Two poems by Anne Babson
Vignette, Townhouse, 9 a.m. by Troy Cunio
Night Becomes Day Over the West by Megan Foley
Yukon River Aurora by D. B. Goman
Two Poems by David Havird
Cretan Love Letter by Emily Linstrom
Holland by Rick Mullin
Fear in Kenya by Kristina Pfleegor
The Lounge Lizard by Ed Shacklee
Two Poems by Sarah J. Sloat
Night Flight by Vicki Stannard
Koinonia Farms by Alina Stefanescu
Thessaloniki, Four a.m. by Anastasia Vassos
Imaginary Oceans by Jason Warren
Two Poems by F. J. Williams

Postcard prose

It’s Salty by Kelly Hill

Travel notes

Anchorage in the Great Land by Karen Benning
The Value of Small Money by Megan Hallinan
Screensaver by Sandra Larson
Thirty Cents by Tommy McAree
Gokarna by Kate McCahill
Going Places by Rachel Miller-Howard
Susanville CA: Notes From The Road by Susan Volchok