Today's poetry for today's world

Oz Hopkins Koglin 


Oz Hopkins Koglin, a journalist turned poet, lives in Portland, Oregon.  Her poems have appeared in Hubbub, VoiceCatcher, The Oregonian, and Poetry Southeast.  She was a community organizer in St. Louis, Missouri, where she grew up, and was selected as a Danforth Foundation Metropolitan Fellow.  She is a graduate of Reed College in Portland.  In celebration of Oregon’s sesquicentennial, Poetry Northwest and the Oregon State Library announced her chapbook Gardens For Everyone as one of the 150 outstanding poetry books of Oregon.






Photo by Briel Johnson.

Gardens For Everyone cover art by D.C. Cooper

To buy Gardens For Everyone

Mail $12.00 to:

Oz Hopkins Koglin

PMB 399

4326 S.E. Woodstock Blvd.

Portland, OR 97206-6270








I hold on to mama’s hem

but my little brother

thinks he’s too big

to hold on


We scurry after daddy,

dodging tall trousers

nylon stockings

suitcases and

greasy shoeboxes

finally finding seats

in the back car

crowded with colored


Fried chicken from home

comforts us

too young to know

there’s a dining car

where we can’t go




First published by Poetry Southeast, an online publication

of the Department of English at Louisiana State University.






                     Counselors at the Negro YWCA camp

                     go to a show in Troy, Mo. circa 1956


On your day off

stop by the mess hall

fill your pockets

with powdered Kool-Aid

hitch a ride to the Trojan

and don’t pay no mind

to the usher who says

it ain’t his rule

just go on up to the funky

balcony and bide time

‘til the movie gets good

then sneak a pinch

of that Kool-Aid

and sprinkle it down

like you baptizing

and watch them white

people squirm

and brush and flick

like something


is messing with them




First published in The Oregonian. 







                                                    for Bryan


Rivers pulled up

in front of the hospital

in her boyfriend’s Thunderbird,

an empty shot glass wedged between

the bucket seats.

I climbed in gingerly -- stitches

pinching, you in my arms.

“Everything’s cool,” she said,

nodding at groceries in a wicker

laundry basket on the back seat.

“Cool,” I said.

And we motored past tornado

rubble to my place where things

were same as the night my water broke.

Rivers unloaded baby bottles,

Karo, Carnation for formula

I made on the hot plate. You

tolerated her awkward arms

while I took a clean piece of

old white eyelet curtain

and a pillow to fashion the basket

into a bassinet and put you down.

Rivers had to split.

So for the first time it was you and me,

evening coming on,

rats coming out.

I set your basket on the only chair,

drew it close to my bed, and

kept the light on all night long.




First published in Hubbub.




Writer's Tip: Read a lot of whatever you fancy.  Cultivate merciless first readers

to critique your writings, then take it or leave it.




Return to The Poets table of contents.