Kate Rutledge Jaffe

words * ideas * relationships


Kate Rutledge Jaffe’s poetry and prose have appeared in a variety of publications. Here’s a selection of recent publications, excerpts, and links to work available to read online.

* Blackbird *

Forthcoming, 2014 / Poetry

"Said Agatha"

* Mid-American Review *

Spring 2014 / Poetry

"Coastal Again"

"Let’s Throw a Party" and "To Know a Door"


Mom’s eyes jut out from rocket-hot hair.

                       That’s a promise   Dad says

                       and turns toward the Pacific sun.

Well   Mom says   good things come

             smile into a mower   Mom.

read more

* iO: A Journal of New American Poetry *

Issue 10, Summer 2013 / Poetry

"Let’s Throw a Party" and "To Know a Door"


Apocalypse is a big-lipped word, but at night don’t we all want to climb inside the finger of a glove? Don’t we daydream about ponds lined with coat hangers and plastic bags, rubble and a dog-dead roll of fish bones, of trash kites caught in trees? And the sky’s a candy corn orange, and the mountains bite at it with capped enamel teeth.

read more

* Meridian *

Issue 31 / Summer 2013 / Poetry

"From the soft fingers of the highway"


On this land, everything settles.

Ridges spread from some

Frontage road somewhere rippling.

The Bible says, Go ye therefore,

And I will make all my mountains

A way. My bones caught

In an apathetic shrug over the crest.

read more

* Tin House *

Summer 2013 / Poetry



First you were a whirling in the stero

     Wasn’t she like starlight   you said     Why aren’t I

made of boys   I wondered   Why can’t I be a box

     a hare   a billion magnifying glasses

face down in the garden     the first bright sleeping animal

read more

* New Delta Review: Best of the Web 2010-2013 *

Spring 2013 / Poetry

"The Modern Hagfish in Form" (reprint)


We were young, okay? And I was the only girl cousin. Our uncle sent us out with pickle jars and spools of twine to catch silt or kill the deer that ate his roses. The boys were fighting; Sammy threw a stone at Mark

and hit him in the head. We kept him awake all night with stories about the first animals.

read more

* The Missouri Review *

35.3 / Fall 2012 / Short Fiction



   My friend ditched us in the woods to go find her boyfriend, an alcoholic named Lars; he had a hot tub.

     “Peace out?” she asked like a question. She walked backwards out of the trees, squinting at me, like, I’m going, this is me going, watch me go, you’re letting me go, there I went.

     When she was gone, the trickster slipped his little finger through a hole in the knee of my jeans.

     “You want to have kids?” he asked me.

read more

* PANK *

7.06 / June 2012 / Poetry

"Hinterland" and "Made"


I collected everything: 
aglets for my shoelaces, jabots for my breasts.
So this is it? I wondered. I stitched myself to windows,
attempted great somethings: a leap, for instance,
between my bedroom and the smooth shuttered garage.

read more

* Narrative Magazine *

Story of the Week / Fall 2011 / Short Fiction

"Her Lazy-Brained Boy"


           Margie’s boy sits in the front yard, pulling up fistfuls of grass and plainly sulking. Surrounding him, the metal frame of a trampoline hunkers in the dirt, the fabric long since gone. Margie’s in the front seat of the car, curbside, glaring. Her boy stares through her and into the vacant passenger seat. His eyes are a milky blue, one always trailing behind the other and rolling reluctantly into place. He pulls out another clump of grass and shakes it, letting the roots dust his jeans. Margie turns her face away, but she can still feel his aimless stare.

read more

* Caketrain *

Issue 09 / Fall 2011 / Prose Poetry/Flash Fiction

"The Sameness of Uncles," "Humming House," "Puppy Love," "Green," and "Dog Days"


My uncle claims to be a cricket, claims he has teeth the way a comb has teeth. Two large veins run along his shoulder blades. He rubs them together: attract, repel.
          A garage layered with bottle water, canned beans, ham radios and jugs of rubbing alcohol, “If,” he says, “is a heavy word,” and he hoists me onto his shoulders where there are cobwebs, flecks of paint to clump in my eyelashes. “Someday someone’s gonna pull us all apart like string cheese,” he says and clutches at his lower back where once a cyst leaked out a fleshy tail—but then, aren’t all adults shape shifters, melting into furniture each time we leave the room?

read more

* The Believer *

October 2011 / Poetry

"The Climb Down"


I is the glance. I never finding stars. Small
milky planets, this reaching for Mom.

Themselves came down for breakfast. I does slept
a green sleep. I is not returned to afternoon.

read more

* New Delta Review *

Issue 1.2 / Summer 2011 / Poetry / Matt Clark Award Winner

“The Modern Hagfish in Form”


We were young, okay? And I was the only girl cousin. Our uncle sent us out with pickle jars and spools of twine to catch silt or kill the deer that ate his roses. The boys were fighting; Sammy threw a stone at Mark

and hit him in the head. We kept him awake all night with stories about the first animals.

read more

* Cold Mountain Review *

39.2 / Spring 2011 / Poetry

“Oh, Brother”


Do you remember how the summer deer dragged the leaves of waterlogged newspapers across our lawn? We’d laugh at their half-flat torsos on the interstate, then cry in horror at ourselves. That winter, I took care of chickens. I gathered their eggs, even as one hen bucked and pecked my calves like a rooster. When I’d pluck the laying hen from her nest, there would be two white eggs. It was so reliable, like the soft spot on a baby’s head. Sometimes the insides of the eggs were orange, and sometimes they were red.

read more

* The Other Room *

Spring 2011 / Short Fiction



          I felt my mother lying to me then, though I was not sure about what. She flushed the toilet and I went to the yard and cut between the tall stalks of raspberry bushes. At their center was all the good fruit my mother never picked. The spines of the bushes cut at my skin, but with a gentle friction that never quite hurt. I watched the blood begin to gather in tiny beads along my arm. This is a gift, I thought. I tried to eat a raspberry seed by seed with my canine teeth.

          We were alone then, she and I. We painted the living room red and ate dinner on the oriental rug. We made Christmas tree ornaments from the cardboard fillers between light bulbs, ripping the corrugated casings from the box and letting the bulbs crack together in the closet, out of sight.

* The Tusculum Review *  

Spring 2011 / Short Fiction / Featured Artist

“Losing Touch”


          After her parents had settled in the woods, Laurie hosted scary-movie parties. We’d drag the television toward the pond, tethered to the house by a long orange extension cord. In The People Under the Stairs, a single slender hand emerged through the heating vent. I screamed. Laurie spread her raincoat over the grass. “Shit,” she said, “It’s dewy. We’re all going to be electrocuted.”

read more

* Timber Journal *

Issue 1 / Winter 2011 / Poetry

"The Middle Ear"   


My son once put his ear against a living moth. He says our ears are raw canals curving toward a drum, an open plume resembling a phonograph. The malleus clutches there, tethered to the incus, to the stapes.

A child can hide things there – a cherry pit, penny or a moth whose forewings folded hindwings pocketed around a small space of air.

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* The Adirondack Review *

11.3 / Winter 2010 / Short Fiction / Fulton Prize Winner

"Talk About the Weather"


          Weekends that fall, Annie started reading in the mornings in bed, sometimes staying there until late in the afternoon. The Torah teaches that when you arrive in heaven, God first inspects your kidneys. Like a bouncer, like a mechanic, like a record store clerk when you’re buying a Rod Stewart box set, he casts on you a critical eye and reads your kidneys where you stand. She learned that from the time of Shakespeare, kidneys were seen as the origin of conscience, a ruminating organ, the place where the first pulse of introspection begins. When looked at laterally, kidneys appear like faceless fetuses, buckled inward and tucked tenderly around their renal arteries and veins. One kidney is good (see: flicking white overcoat, compassionate smile, pat on the back, banana cream pie to be savored and shared with the neighbors) and the other evil (see: black leather faded brown, dry flicking tongue, exasperated eye rolls, rubbing woodchips in your hair, lighting a trashcan on fire). Together with the heart, they conspire, driving you toward whatever your inevitability. So when you arrive in heaven, God’s got to check them out, see which one succeeded, maybe even have a conversation: So how’d she do? God might ask, and the kidneys would waiver their ureters: Comme si, comme ça.

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