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.

Down the River

after Mary Oliver’s “Crossing the Swamp”

Here is the bend:
in the whispering trees
in the babbling water
where cattails cackle
with secrets
untold.

Here is the river:
where oar
breaks water
makes a stir
of ripples
sharing gossip with geese
busy-ness of beaver dam
carries on
and on.

Here is life:
undisturbed
and always disturbed
by growing
and going
moving against current
where river
is never
the same
letting the current
take me away
where I am
apart–

a part
of something always changing
always moving
rising
falling
ebbing
flowing
freezing
thawing

going–

around the bend again
where dead tree
finds life
dried reed
is resuscitated
wet
and glistening
and the cat-tails yowl
and tortoise sneers
and water sings
with its breathing chorus.

Here I am;
around the
river
bend.

© Maxine L. Peseke

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.

The trees spread out

At sundown, we said goodbye

to several species, knowing 

at dawn they would be murdered 

for their bodies. I wonder 

sometimes what my mother thinks 

about the trees being taken, 

about the planet having a fever, 

ground hardening, water coming 

with storms of rage. Here, 

there is frozen grass, crunching

under foot, a wildness sprung 

from weeds. The cool tint 

of winter light in branches, a quiet 

before a slaughter of aging trunks 

and the wisdom they grew with.

I wonder if my mother knows 

what projection is, if she would say 

I project my own humanity and fear 

onto the trees or if she knows 

I hug at least one of these mammoths 

every day, no matter the color of sky, 

no matter the temperature of earth.

.

-Liza Wolff-Francis

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.

Winter came again this year

brought snow that covered 

the dirt gravel yard 

of the house across the street,

dressed it up in a wedding gown

until neighbor kids walked circles all over it,

left trails of footprints, laid down 

and made snow angels. One of their coats, 

the bright red, painted mud when he stood, 

the ground, a stained hem,

breathed through the white.

.

Winter came again this year

with the promise of cold air, 

but hitched to wind, like a one-night stand

that went on over and over again every week 

until we called it a four-month affair,

then wind finally ran off with spring,

howling at winter to leave.

.

Winter brought cold and snow 

one last time, as if trying to show off, 

to show force, to tell us how much 

we need the quiet hibernation.

We tried to tell winter we were grateful 

for the dark, for cold fingers and toes, 

for the alone time, the inhale-like gasp

of cold air, but spring had already 

colored the parks, the trees, the forest.

And winter left again just as expected 

without holding on too hard.

-Liza Wolff-Francis

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

Twilight Apache Plume

My tendrils reach to sun
even in twilight, the voice 
of each one comes to life, 
like a collective hum, 
a soprano praise to sky 
and to light even on the shortest day,
when everywhere the darkness 
opens wide, like the mouth of a cave.
In my stillness, I wade in, 
slowly, hide the sound
darkness struggles to let out. 
Even as I find myself between 
the teeth, in the swallow-throat 
of cavern into belly, the fluidity 
of darkness hung around my neck 
like jewelry, but more necessary, 
more imminent, like this cycle 
we are a part of without ever 
having signed up for it.
As soon as I have come to terms 
with the bitter taste of this song 
of darkness in my mouth,
light begins to emerge. 
I see it in the colors I become, 
hear my song at a higher pitch 
as I see the lips of the cave, 
exit through them again.
Tomorrow, I will remember and forget 
this and the next day too, 
when the sun comes. 
I will stand tall before it, 
and I will reach for it, reach.

-Liza Wolff-Francis

This poem was for a prompt our group wrote to in honor of the late Julie Brokken and as an ekphrastic piece to one of her photos “Twilight Apache Blume.”

Julie Brokken’s website is beautiful with her art. You can see this photo: “Twilight Apache Plume” at this link at the bottom of the page. It is the next to last photo. Here is the link:

http://www.juliebrokken.com/botanical-beings.html