What You Left Behind

Katrina Kaye

tubes of paint
brushes hardened
by soaking kerosene
three blank canvases
one tinted yellow
the taste of turpentine

a stain from spilt turpentine
spots on the wall from paints
all a different shade of yellow
a patch of carpet hardened
with the oil dripped from canvas
that would dissolve with kerosene

I drank the left over kerosene
mixed it with a shot of turpentine
spat it on canvas
and covered it with paint
my gut burned and hardened
into a shade of greenish yellow

a lighter shade of yellow
when mixed with kerosene
colors hardened
cannot be scrubbed with turpentine
and what is one to do with paints
and blank canvas

I stood your canvas
in the sun’s yellow
squeeze on palate your abandoned paints
dissolved brushes in kerosene
lighten texture with turpentine
wonder how long it took to hardened

After hours colors hardened
an abstract display on canvas
I used turpentine
to correct the yellow
and kerosene
to fix fumbled paints

I hardened beautiful yellow
portrait on canvas, set brushes in kerosene
then threw turpentine to smear paints

Letters

Katrina Kaye

He was never articulate,
educated yet unimaginative.
He knows this.
He knows I know this.

It is not that I expect poetry
over prose. I am the writer
between the two.
It is an old anxiety
only recently resurfaced.

He does not write to me.
Instead he sends me sketches.

One of coffee in a paper cup,
planes in the background through large
thick windows.
One of the rails of a balcony with a
river rushing below.
One of me, lip bite and eyes shining
as I watched him go.

His words are simple,
“I miss you” and “thank you.”

In my letters,
I ask him about the weather,
he sketches the rain on the window.
I ask him if he is keeping busy,
he sketches a sketch of him sketching
within a sketch of him sketching.

I ask him if he’s lonely,
he sketches my face among the rumpled
blankets of morning, sun streaking
from the windows behind me.
He sketches two children playing
invisible violins and reading each other’s palms.

Her ghost does not haunt these pictures,
and I wonder where he keeps her now.

If her wrapped body still
hangs heavy in his hands,
if the slideshow in his mind
still flashes on her crumpled body.
If he still blames himself
for being moments too late.

I know he does.

I ask him if he had forgiven himself,
he sketches houses rebuilt and clear skies.
In a moment of weakness,
I ask him if I will ever see him again.
To this he replies with words,
hand scrawled and sloppy,
“I count the days, my dearest friend.”

 

Bound for Great Things

Katrina Kaye

Chicago wants your hands,
the creases of your knuckles,
the calluses on fingers.
New York is hungry for your history,
a collection of the photographs
your mind took and formed into line
and oil. Boston knows too well
the way you weave your words
onto a canvas.

I am just a girl in New Mexico
sitting by window sill,
bandaging the blisters,
filling journal with words
that belong to the last picture
left on the
your palms.

I am too soaked to continue
to sponge the pain that leaks
over your rim.

You are wasting time among desert,
choking on the dry memories of youth,
attempting to rebuild the house
you burnt to the ground ten years ago.

You have not built a home in my bed,
you are merely hiding there,
tracing eternity on my sheets
pretending to be the boy who left me
at the train station.

They call to reclaim their wayward son,
posing pretty, waiting for your hands
to reclaim their essence.

Atlantic

Katrina Kaye

I always knew
you would be leaving.
The Atlantic has called you
ever since she first saw your hands,
ever since she first
watched you take a picture of her
with the photography of your mind
and place her colors to canvas.

She adores you 
and she is calling.

I am no match to her pull.

She is not alone.
Your mailbox overflows
with eager offers.
Everyone wants a piece of your madness.

Yet, I had you first,
and selfishly want to tether you near.
I want every painting to be a sunrise we watched.
I want every part to be you and me.
I want to wrap myself in
this home we have created.

But there are oceans in your eyes,
and when you look at me
I see crashing waves and city streets.
What can the desert offer such a boy
with a mind for the minute
and hands like yours
always drawing themselves.

I knew it was just a matter of time
before you work your way east,
leave me to the west.

Lighthouse

Katrina Kaye

Every blink
of your eyes

is a sunrise at sixteen,
when you told me

you loved me
and we watched the

sun eat the black.
Fifteen years later

you cling to me,
and I let you.

With each kiss
I promise

safe harbor,
with each touch

I seek to steer
your path.

I am
no beacon.

I am easily lost
to the night,

unable to guide
ships led astray.

My hands cannot
retain heat,

cannot heal or
offer cure from pain.

Yet, there is
a light in me

that still hopes I can
lead you home.

 

Watercolor painting of North Carolina lighthouse Original painting and fine art proofs available at: http://www.etsy.com/shop/RFoxWatercolors

Meadow

Katrina Kaye

childhood playground
fallen prey to constant foot falls

the shift of flood to drought
the scorch of day evaporates
morning dew on slick leaves of grass

the numb of night wilts
long stalks of mild green
into wilt and waste

it always seemed safe here

somehow perpetually permanent

but this world is volatile
it is always taking
turning what was
into what is

heaven dries in the barren heat
and heaves into wasteland
children lose their fairy wings
and become merely human

the meadow is gone
like all things must 

magic is dissected into practical parts
and disappears

Awake at 3:45am

Katrina Kaye

Here is Sleep,
stretched on my right side,
exuding warmth and calm
so close to my chilled skin.

He is distant despite the proximity
promised by the hands of clock and
length of lingering darkness.

The lights from the street and
solitary passing car slip between
slightly parted blinds into long stripes
across far white wall,
chasing shadows to restful corners;
their claws receded.
No longer do they unfold
toward me in the lonely dim.

In spite of the vow of peaceful nightfall,
I am awake with stale breath held in chest,
deconstructing a nightmare into
a coiled grey sweater left on floor.
The simplest of terrors paralyze,
leaving me vulnerable prey to the night.

It is impossible to be lucid
in the muck of these early hours,
when the tiny tragedies of  
the ever turning world imprint dreams,
causing Sleep to lack the relief
he once promised.

Indifferent to my mistrust,
Sleep breathes, soft and rhythmic,
a silentious invitation to join him,
the only sound breaking the night.

And now I

Katrina Kaye

steal a moment
under the clutter of
ceiling fan loose
at its screws
and the breeze
from open window
advertising a night
more temperate
than the day
more quiet and
peaceful than the
rumble of mind

I have chosen to settle

I loved nights
like this when I was younger
when I spent little
time indoors and allowed
myself the freedom
and recklessness
I thought was the
promise of life
I am glad I lived it then

nights like this

making out in a car
with the first boy I
fell in love with

walking with blissful
intoxication
through a city street

driving under the stars
just outside the city
limits where the light finally rests

dancing in the dark
as I walked downtown
with someone I barely
knew but trusted completely

I wish I remembered more

I wish I hadn’t spent
so much time looking
toward the next moment
and enjoyed the one in which I swam

I didn’t take it all for granted

how many times
have I had the privilege of
lying with eyes puddled closed
feeling content with what
I have lived
believing there was nothing more
life could gift me

it continues its kindness

and although I am sometimes
clouded with doubt, I too
recognize the love
the ability
the beauty
the full gift of life

I am not one to use the word ‘blessed’
and the word ‘luck’ trivializes the sensation
I am gifted in this life and despite pain,
disappointment, failure, and setback
I have so much

I fill with gratitude
with feelings of having more
than I deserve
what more can I ask
what more is there to attain
these words are a two headed serpent
and cannot translate the race of language or
the fullness of thought clouding my mind

I will not use this moment
to make any grand resolutions
but I will allow the freedom
of heart and mind to find my peace

I am grateful for this moment
with sleeping dog at my side and
mewing cat on the shoulder of couch
the loud crank of the ceiling fan
the breeze of the night through open window  
it does not tempt me to places I have once been

It merely reminds me
of a life I too often lived unexamined

 

We are not

Katrina Kaye

We are not architects.

We are incapable of designing even
the most rudimentary of concepts.
We are not ranch style homes
with islands in our kitchens,
shiny steel pots hanging from hooks.

We are not adults when we are together,
We are not day jobs and early nights.
We are not rational.

We are not quarterly clocks
or forgotten promises,
we are not clean slates.

We are not Christmas traditions
or dinner table arguments.

We are not first loves.

We will never be that old couple on the beach
watching the sea.

We are not pegged legged or one armed,
and although capable of swinging,
we do not always land on our feet.
We will never be lawn mowers or garden tenders.

We will never be teddy bears or multicolored legos.
We are too old to be children.
We are not competent with building blocks.

We are not good liars,
we are not without the burden of guilt
and the expectation of consequence.

We will never be nuclear.

We will never be suits and formal wear
We are not made of plastic,
our colors run,
our sides bend.

We are not indestructible.
We are merely chemical.
The reactions of our exchanges
through touch send easy fever.

We are not poetry.
We are not romance novels.

We are instruction manuals
and wings pieced together
from the remnants of kites.

I don’t know what we are.
When I ask you,
you can only tell me who I am.
You can only say how you feel.
There is no we.

Dare I say
we are holding each other in the dark.
That we are not thinking about tomorrow,
but counting this moment for all it is.
Dare I say all we are is right now.

While she sleeps,

Katrina Kaye

I watch the clouds gather
outside the bedroom window

the snow is coming

please let the snow come

the hush of the early morning
wraps itself around me
turning my breath to ghost

While she sleeps,
I make coffee
enough for both of us
but I know hers will go cold
before she wakes

when she wakes

if she wakes

I watch the sky
and pray for snow
let coffee bitter the tongue
release the air
stockpiled in my lungs

when I woke
I was colder than I have
ever been
I was talking to ghosts
that are still clinging to flesh and blood

When I woke,
I was alone so I stayed
beside her while she slept

across the room

in a blanket and chair

by the window

sipping the coffee and
watching the sky
praying for snow
hoping she wakes soon

so neither of us
will be alone