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.

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

Desperation

Katrina Kaye

is not merely a flash of color.
You can caress it, cradle it,

wrap it around your fist
like the links of a chain.
It pinches the skin,
cuts to the pink.

I am not one to chew lips
or graze nail tips, but
on nights like this
desperation crawls beneath surface,

lurks inside rough veins roped around arm,
treads under the soft tissue of neck,
I can see it pulse.

The salt of it can
not be denied,
the stink can not
go ignored.
I have been playing
fill in the blanks
with crossed eyes only
to come to the conclusion
that all of this,

ALL OF THIS

is for nothing.

Can’t you see that?

The hiss of heartbeat
is not generous enough
and with every scratch
the healing takes a little longer.
If the skin is already dead,
then the venom will recede.
Not even a scar remains.

The cut was never that deep.

I tended my own wounds
before you ever had
a chance to see them.
There was never any pain,
I just didn’t realize
how easily skin could split.

Impulse

Katrina Kaye

when is the last time
you held sand
felt the fall
of each gradual
and wished for nothing
more than the warmth
your allowed to slip from hands

I am lingering deep
in a list of what
could have been and
relishing the simple
I have attained

I call them albas
morning songs
gibberish
they are nothing to anyone
but the melody
reminds me of a memory

yes time has passed me
forgotten my name
and kept
rolling through
like the weather
like the waves
like the pull of the moon
these things aren’t forever
despite how far they stretch

after all
there is no such thing as forever
merely here and merely now
even our breath is compulsory

do we continue the ritual and fail
or do we learn and do we go on

where does the fall take us
if not to the next season

Voice

Katrina Kaye

My speech
shudders
inside me,

a tornado
siren,

a wail
in my gut,

the echos
fade fast.

Where did my voice go?

There was a time
I could go on,
each word scorching
the tongue of
the last.

Now
I find my voice subdued.

Now
I find
I  skirt the floor
with the debris of curse
words.

I no longer
spiral pronunciations
around tongue
but let sound
idle.

Voice
needs room
to grow,
a space
to share.

Voice
needs to
cling to the
octaves of
rib cage
and swing

and scream
and hold tight,
and not be surprised
when the waves buck us
from our feet.

Kate once told me

Katrina Kaye

every poem begins
as a suicide note.
And a
well rehearsed
death
is always
winkled inside my mind,
soaking there,
dripping stalagmites,
building blocks of
the subconscious.

Counting ticks
to the end;
the story
so close
to conclusion.

Loneliness,
like rock candy
crystallizing on
popsicle sticks,
attached to rib cage,
expands and compresses
with each
shallow breath.

I don’t have fear.

Sometimes the
only thing
that gets me through
is knowing
at any minute
I can stop it all.
I can rock and roll
out of this human suit
shed soft covering,
reveal bare bone,
and empty cavern.
The sliver of power
over my life;

it is everything and
it is nothing.

7

Katrina Kaye

it has been
seven years
since last
touched

the final
flakes of body
that remembered
are rubbed clean

i am reborn

but there is
residual substance
in the circuitry
of mind
left over and
lingering

a cue
clinging
to cobwebs

as clean as
body may be
it is no match
for the grip
of memory

despite the
warmth of skin,
muscle, heartbeat,
breath, and blood,
there is a chill
that sinks
to bone