hard light

by Kateema Lee

by definition
she is an absence
little cut-out girl
with no lucent
light   the window
withholds natural
as angle of view
blue-black form
a shadow’s silhouette
if removed would she
be missed   if kept
would she be missed
of the unnamed
if lit   named If
would she become
a focal figure
muddy contrast
origin fixed

Kateema Lee is a Washington, DC native. Her recent work has been published or is forthcoming in the African American Review, Gargoyle, and PMS: Poem Memoir Story. She is a Cave Canem Graduate Fellow, a Callaloo fellow, a participant of The Home School, and she has a chapbook, Almost Invisible, forthcoming from Aldrich Press later this year.

What surprising, fascinating stuff can you tell us about the origin, drafting, and/or final version of “hard light”?

“hard light” is an ekphrastic poem. It started with a wonderful workshop prompt, an image of a little nondescript girl in front of a window, and my love of photography. In the draft, the language of photography and short lines gave shape to my inquiry about the image. That little girl, a “shadow’s silhouette, to me, represents absence and the many unnamed little girls and women who make up the numbers of often ignored statistics. The few girls and women who are named reveal, in many cases, dual narratives. I’m amazed by how light or the lack of light can change perceptions.


Congrats to Christopher Allen for having a work from HOUSEHOLD TOXINS being chosen to appear in BSF 2019 from Sonder Press.

Check out the write-up of the journal in The Writer.


Poetry, creative nonfiction, and fiction/prose poetry submissions is now CLOSED. Check out our new category triptychs! The next submission period opens September 15, 2019; submit here.


09/05 • Richard Baldasty (1 of 4)
09/07 • Briel Felton
09/09 • Chelsea Stickle
09/11 • Jeffrey Spahr-Summers
09/12 • Richard Baldasty (2 of 4)
09/14 • Frances Badgett
09/16 • Sarah Russell
09/18 • Ryan Stone
09/19 • Richard Baldasty (3 of 4)
09/23 • TBD
09/25 • TBD
09/26 • Richard Baldasty (4 of 4)
09/30 • TBD
10/02 • TBD
10/03 • J.I. Kleinberg
10/07 • TBD
10/09 • TBD
10/10 • Lilian McCarthy
12/02 • Tara Campbell