Katherine Riegel is the author of two books of poetry, What the Mouth Was Made For and Castaway. Her poems and essays have appeared in a variety of journals, including Brevity, Crazyhorse, and The Rumpus. She is co-founder and poetry editor for Sweet: A Literary Confection.

On Libations:
“Bombay Sapphire gin and tonic with extra limes. But I'm coming to love vodka drinks too—at a hip place in downtown Tampa, I was introduced to one that included blackberry jam. It was heaven.”

Katherine Riegel




I believe Icarus was not failing as he fell,

but just coming to the end of his triumph.

—Jack Gilbert


There’s a guy ordering hot chocolate at the counter

and when the barista asks him

if he wants whipped cream he says

yeah in this low, breathy voice that tells everyone

he always wants whipped cream and don’t all of us,

really? If I notice things like that too often or

too keenly now, is that a bad thing, or just slightly

less appealing, like hot chocolate without whipped

cream—still good, rich and mouthy, but not quite

everything you wanted? Anyway I care less

and less about appropriate and more and more

about wanting, about moans and sighs and how the sound

of a zipper can make you want to lie down

right where you are—on the sidewalk even, with

the cigarette butts and the cold seeping into your back,

if only someone would just kiss you

like they do in the movies. And I care

about beginnings, the lips finding that spot

on the neck, the too-much-clothing between skin

and skin; even more, perhaps, about middles’

secret stories, the slow but firm

touch, the nightingale vines curling from open mouths

into the dark. And when the ending finally

comes, the song trilled out to its last fluid note,

do we call that failure?