The Red House–Karen Keltz

Don’t ask me the name of our street
some tree name—alder, aspen, oak?
The FFA barn across the street spewed boys beating their cattle
to make them mind.
My father shook his head.
They don’t understand, he said.
Beating never works.

Yet, the day I didn’t come straight home after school,
he whooshed his belt through his waistband loops,
doubled it in his palm and
whacked my butt while I screamed
and learned for the first time to hate.
I thought about how lucky it was to be a cow
in my father’s pasture.


Karen Keltz, avid north coast beach walker, has won awards for poetry, non-fiction, fiction, and screenwriting. Her newest juvenile novel, “Laurel Hedges and the Evil Lurker,” is available on Amazon. A former journalist and educator, she has lived in Tillamook for 44 years and is now considered a pioneer.