in the Garden of Life and Death


Product Description

A Mother and Daughter Walk

Poems by

Kimberlyn Blum-Hyclak

ISBN: 978-1-59948-494-5, ~80 pages, $14

Release Date: January 2015

About The Author

KHyclak_PxKimberlyn Blum-Hyclak, a transplanted Buckeye, grew up next to a neighbor’s garden of zinnias, hollyhocks, and sweet peas—not the kind you eat but the kind that smell heavenly. She lives in Lancaster, SC, holding that garden in her heart and wishing her thumbs were green enough to grow it. Her work has appeared in Iodine Poetry Journal, Kakalak, Petigrue Review, and Catfish Stew. She writes at


Kim Blum-Hyclak’s poems, in her inaugural collection, In the Garden of Life and Death, are like nitro glycerin, compositions so volatile, balanced so precariously and expertly on the poet’s daring diction that they threaten at every turn, with every rut in the road, to explode and blow us all to Kingdom Come. Blum-Hyclak’s recounting of her daughter’s illness, the breathtaking odyssey of a family staggering through it—most poignantly the mother-poet who presides over these sacrificial poems—requires the paradoxical caress with which one handles explosives. The toil and craft, the emotional cost, which went into these poems, would have been wrenching. Blum-Hyclak’s bravado is breathtaking. Risk italicizes each syllable. The reader holds his own breath, looking over the poet’s shoulder as she waits out each detonation. The narratives she spins are unforgettable. The faith that undergirds this book is indomitable. “Surely there is a lesson / in bringing our brokenness to the altar,” testifies the speaker in “First Holy Communion.” And surely there is a lesson in reading In the Garden of Life and Death, a volume that champions recovery, the sacramental reclamation of firm ground, the offering (indeed the Offertory) and ceremony of these courageous and memorable poems.  ~ Joseph Bathanti

Kim Blum-Hyclak’s garden bears heart-tearing thorns, but also blooms with faith, forgiveness, and courage. Her narrative yet delicately lyrical poems take us deep into the pathways of the heart of a woman who feels the shadow of danger even as her daughter flutters in her womb. Such haunting poems as “Offering,” “Broken” and “Seeds” allude to the sacrifices made for, and losses of, a child stricken with leukemia. In a joyous celebration of children, “First Communion” sings the music of love. This collection follows Blum-Hyclak through battles with the cancer of her daughter and mother with grace and gratitude, leaving this reader grateful for the hope and beauty found in these words. ~ Diana Pinckney





My stomach rounds
with impending birth
a daughter
I know

Like the quickening of her heart
a shadow word flutters in my dreams
shouts its presence in my waking
makes my skin prickle

drumming louder
stronger with each rhythmic pulse
I hold its beat until
I can hold my daughter

I don’t discuss it with my husband
I won’t write it in my journal
I can’t allow the word a voice.

Gabrielle is born
she is perfect

The haunting word


A Groovy Kind of Love


J-9 on the teen room jukebox.
The only song you’ll play
over and over . . .
Oblivious to the audience
of doctors and nurses
gathered in silence at the door
Phil Collins lulls you
into your own ballet.
Your stage is not this hospital wing
where lumbar punctures probe
and low blood counts restrict.
Yet you remain tethered.
The IV pole holds the drip
but it’s the music
that courses through your body.

with arabesques and pirouettes
the chemo that ravages.
Arms raised in offering
your spirit will not be harnessed.
In graceful acceptance
you bow to the stainless steel
your partner in this dance.


Symbiosis Too


My arm supports her back,
skinnier than I ever recall.
My free hand cups her cheek,
cradles her head against my breast.

But this time, it’s Mom I hold.

Lousy veins blow
with each needle’s attempt.
Hands, swollen and bruised,
even the nurses in tears.

Relax, blow slowly,
I whisper,
breathe along,
set the pace.

She draws my strength
and I her spirit,
passing once more
from mother to daughter.

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