Chelsea DesAutels


Chelsea B. DesAutels is a poet living in Minneapolis. Her debut poetry collection, A Dangerous Place, released from Sarabande Books in 2021. Chelsea’s work appears in Ploughshares, Copper Nickel, Adroit Journal, Massachusetts Review, Willow Springs, Pleiades, Ninth Letter, and elsewhere, and her poem “City Lake” was featured on The Slowdown. A Tin House Scholar and winner of the Jeffrey E. Smith Editors’ Prize from the Missouri Review, Chelsea earned her MFA from the University of Houston, where she was the recipient of the Inprint Verlaine Prize in Poetry and served as Poetry Editor of Gulf Coast.  She has received support from the Anderson Center at Tower View, Vermont Studio Center, Minnesota Northwoods Writers’ Conference, Community of Writers, and others.

Some of the many places Chelsea has called home include South Dakota, New York, Minnesota, and Texas. In addition to her MFA, Chelsea holds degrees from the University of Minnesota Law School and Wellesley College. Source

City Lake

Almost dusk. Fishermen packing up their bait,

a small girl singing there’s nothing in here nothing in here

casting a yellow pole, glancing at her father.

What is it they say about mercy? Five summers ago

this lake took a child’s life. Four summers

ago it saved mine, the way the willows stretch

toward the water but never kiss it, how people laugh

as they walk the concrete path or really have it out

with someone they love. One spring the path teemed

with baby frogs, so many flattened, so many jumping.

I didn’t know a damn thing then. I thought I was waiting

for something to happen. I stepped carefully

over the dead frogs and around the live ones.

What was I waiting for? Frogs to rain from the sky?

A great love? The little girl spies a perch

just outside her rod’s reach. She wants to wade in.

She won’t catch the fish and even if she does

it might be full of mercury. Still, I want her

to roll up her jeans and step into the water,

tell her it’s mercy, not mud, filling each impression

her feet make. I’m not saying she should

be grateful to be alive. I’m saying mercy

is a big dark lake we’re all swimming in. 





Literary Movements:


Anthology Years:



Memory & The Past


Literary Devices:


conversation between two or more people as a feature of a book, play, or movie


visually descriptive or figurative language, especially in a literary work

Rhetorical Question

a question asked for effect, not necessarily to be answered