Carolynn Kingyens’ Coupling — A Review

A look at Carolynn Kingyens’ bright and brilliant poetry collection, Coupling….

by: Sharon Waller Knutson

ICoupling, Carolynn Kingyens’ second poetry collection published by Kelsay Books, she proves her talent for reaching into the depths of her soul and enlightening readers about love, loss, and regret with thirty heartwarming and heartbreaking poems. Kingyens isn’t afraid to speak the truth, be it beautiful or ugly.

Her characters are complex, real human beings with all the wrinkles and warts that comes with living a full life.

The wise title poem “Coupling” shows how couples see things differently:

His truth:

….you knew I was the woman

you were destined to marry

the moment you saw me

in your doorway…”

Her truth:

….You had no interest

in wanting to marry me…

I was ripe, hot, 

willing to please —

not yet the bitch

you would later marry.”

The powerful poem “In Sickness” explores the conflict of staying true to marriage vows when one spouse descends into madness.

“I know a good man

still in love with his

dementia-suffering wife

even after she’d hurl insults

from a mouth on fire,

thinking he was 

her dead father

who once dropped

her farm kittens

one by one

inside a pillowcase,

tied a tight knot,

before casually tossing

the crying, moving bag

into the backyard pond.”

Like many of the poems, the powerful “Shadow & Light” pits evil versus good.


He once called her

his better half 

before the arrival

of children, 

the car payments,

and bankruptcy,

before the sex addiction,

the mistress,

and murder

in the middle of the night…”


“Or how that rookie cop,

the son of a veteran,

delivered a baby boy

in the backseat

of a beat-up Buick,

outside Vegas,

gently placing the

wet screaming newborn

inside the warmth

of his coat

before bringing him

close to his heart.”

The poignant poem, “Vacation Bible School,” illustrates that religion in childhood doesn’t necessarily prepare us for the challenges of adulthood.

“We drank Jim Jones-colored

punch and ate no-frills

butter cookies;

finger painted Noah

and his rescued animals…

“Years later, Timmy Ainsley

would shoot himself in the mouth…

And I heard little Regina

Hopely, Bethel’s Christmas

Pageant Mary

became a meth addict…”

Kingyens shows her sense of humor in “Elephants,” a clever charming satire on life.

“To get along

in certain circles

sometimes meant

living with elephants.

The smart ones

carried peanuts

inside their pockets.

I was not one

of the smart ones.”

She ends the book with “Leaving,” a sparse poem about the end of a relationship. 

“First you hear the sound

of a zipper zipping…

…then you listen for

the jingling of keys

and somewhere a door

is closing.”

After I finished the book, I read it over and over, not wanting my time with this talented poet and friend to end. 

Grab a copy of Coupling here!


Sharon Waller Knutson is a retired journalist who lives in Arizona. She has published several poetry books including My Grandmother Smokes Chesterfields (Flutter Press 2014) and What the Clairvoyant Doesn’t Say and Trials & Tribulations of Sports Bob (Kelsay Books 2021.). Her work has also appeared in Trouvaille, One Art, Mad Swirl, The Drabble,, Gleam,, Spillwords, Muddy River Review, Verse-Virtual, Your Daily Poem, Red Eft Review, The Five-Three and The Song Is…

One reply on “Carolynn Kingyens’ Coupling — A Review”
  1. says: Arthur Rosch

    A good poet. A really good poet. Writers who can achieve intimacy with readers are the gifted ones. Kingyens’ poetry is practical, accessible yet profound. Good work amigos!

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