Serving House: A Journal of Literary Arts
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SHJ Issue 16
Spring 2017


by Sean Karns

I have been thinking a lot about beginnings and endings over the past couple of days. So much of living is a series of beginnings and endings. I met Okla eleven years ago in Columbus, Ohio. He moved to Columbus for his MFA. Our new beginnings crossed paths. I went back to college later in life—my new beginning. He was instrumental in the beginning of our friendship, a friendship that would cross three states. Anyways, in Columbus we met, and at the time there were very few people that believed or even cared about my poetry, but Okla did. He saw something in my work that he felt deserved his and others’ attention, and for nearly two years, and almost weekly, we had our poetry sessions. We would spend ten hours during these sessions working on our craft, side by side, and getting drunk, and dancing, and puking. We worked and we celebrated; and that is what we lived for.

That ended, but a new beginning opened. After two years of our poetry sessions, I got into an MFA program, and I moved to Champaign, Illinois. A new beginning for me, and of course, nine months later, Okla would start his PhD at the U of I. Another beginning, another merging of our paths. He would joke about how one day he would live in a city that did not require me as a tour guide. That the roles will be reversed.

The Illinois days ended, and new beginnings emerged for both of us. Okla moved to Pennsylvania, living his dream as a professor, scholar, writer, and champion of other writers. Late in February, Okla called me and asked me to live with him. We joked about how over the past eleven years we only lived apart for two years, and now he was going to be the tour guide.

I accepted his offer. A new beginning, a new experience, and being with someone who would help me get back on track—I had somewhat drifted off over the past year, which he noticed in our phone conversations.

I lived with Okla for the past two weeks, and I am happy I had the chance, because you never know.

One of the last conversations we had was about fate. He believed that we were fated to meet and to cultivate a long lasting relationship. I refuse to believe that his untimely death is the end of Okla. I do believe that this is a new beginning for me, and Okla will live with me through all the other beginnings that I hope to experience.

Miss and love you, brother.


SHJ Issue 16
Spring 2017

Sean Karns

is the author of Jar of Pennies, a collection of poetry published in 2015 by New American Press. His work has been anthologized in New Poetry from the Midwest (New American Press), and has appeared or is forthcoming in Birmingham Poetry Review, Cold Mountain Review, Folio, HOBART (online), Mayday Magazine, Pleiades, Rattle, The Los Angeles Review, and elsewhere.

Karns earned an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Illinois and a BA in English from Ohio State University, and now teaches at Parkland College in Illinois.

“...we have been born here to witness and celebrate. We wonder at our purpose for living. Our purpose
is to perceive the fantastic. Why have a universe if there is no audience?” — Ray Bradbury