Riddles for the End of the World

by Sam Kealhofer

Word Games

toil, toil,
how I boil
in every inch
of southern soil–
that is how
the cotton’s grown.
Can’t press me from
a river’s stone,
but reap me when
a war is sown.
I can be loaned
but should not mix
with certain types
of difference.
I’m sometimes bad,
sometimes blue,
but always of
a scarlet hue.
I work best
when I’m inside,
and the sight of me
can terrorize.
So I simply ask,
What am I?

Word Games II

I’m light as fabric
but cut like fangs,
can be used
to tear and maim–
but also am a
frothy mass.
if you’re smart
then you would ask
why you are
compared to me.
Quicker than the speed
of sound–
up, off, out, and down.
I bend and stretch
but still I crack
if I don’t have
any slack.
Process, person,
action, tool–
often I enforce the rules.
Best steer clear,
best abide,
else I might just
snatch an eye–
now time to answer
what am I?


Sam Kealhofer is a Mississippi native obtaining a Master’s degree in English with a concentration in creative writing from Mississippi State University. His work has been featured in Dunes Review, Peregrine Journal, and some online publications.