K sounds—both evil and good—are crashing into my ears from everywhere. Not only the biggies—kill and kiss—but the lipstick and the triptych and the styptic and the dipstick, the kicking against the pricks, the key-keeper (oh no, not the basement again), the key-card to get in (and the platinum one for getting out), the kerygma of my childhood Sundays, the ancient snake-king Kekrops, the ancient *ker- (horn, head—in the keratin, the unicorn, the carrot, the cranium), ken and kenning and kennel, kismet, the sad coke-heads and the bad skivers at the helter-skelter shelter, the Cantonese, Catalan, Cornish, Cree, Creole, Crioulo, Croatian, Kalanga, Kannada, Kapampangan, Kashmiri, Kechua, Kabardian, Kazakh, Khmer, Kikongo, Kirundi, Konkani, Korean, Koryak, Kurdish, and Kyrgyz, and the cocoa, the caca, the cacophony, and karaoke, the Hausa trumpet called the kakaki, the Kama Sutra, and caramel, and chiromancy, chloroform, cholesterol, coccyx, cochineal, cocaine, cockamamie, cock-and-bull, cockling and cackling, cock-throppled (which is rare as a word but not as a condition of the horse), and innumerable cocks of one kind or another, and also cocoons, codependence, coevolution, coercion, cold-call, cold-cut, cold-cock, and cold-hearted, cold-blooded, strike-outs, the kakistocracy, and very much that thing with three k’s. You know.

Reginald Gibbons’ most recent book of prose is An Orchard in the Street (very short stories, BOA Editions, 2017), and his most recent book of poems (his tenth) is Last Lake (U of Chicago 2016). Gibbons (@poemthink) teaches at Northwestern University, where he’s the director of the Litowitz Creative Writing Graduate Program (MFA+MA).

Photo by Paul Bilger