The McKinley Review Magazine

The Cold Burn 

By: Robert Klein Engler | Posted on: July 2018 

Men are building new homes by the river.

Dressed in orange vests they hammer up boards

that block out rooms in the air, partition

what was for a 100 years the wind’s space.


A battered radio by the lunch wagon rhymes

a rap song, and high above, in “V” formation,

geese swim the air to find their summer home.

Spring places an awful burden on poetry.


Yet there it is, the force in the green fuse that

makes a carpet of bluebells nearby to remind

me of a long wound from childhood to the grave.

I wonder if these hands could hold more


than the winter air of empty, rented rooms.

Some hidden seeds may never bloom until

a fire will coax them from a shell of sleep.

Do you pray? I do. Not because I believe so


much, but because I want so much to believe.

Some boys are bent, some boys don’t get along.

Word by word we build our poem from air.

I was a child once, but not for long.


Robert Klein Engler lives in Omaha, Nebraska and sometimes New Orleans. He is a writer and artist. Robert holds degrees from the University of Illinois at Urbana and the University of Chicago Divinity School. He has received Illinois Arts Council awards for his poetry.