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.

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

Crack

Katrina Kaye

if the storm did come,
i fear my first
instinct would be
to walk to the apex
bold and frenzied

my streets have been
dry for too long
leaving me desperate
to stand in the rain

i would trade my sight
for the scent of distant
thunder

my taste for the prickle
of hair twirled
in every direction.

i have prayed
for destruction.

but what do i know?

my mother was never
ripped into the sky
by unruly clouds,
my house never blown
down despite the coyotes
that surround back door
i have never wakened
to shattered glass
underneath my morning feet.

why should i distress of the
wrath of weather when my
New Mexican sky is endless blue
my sun bright enough i see
only red in the darkness.

i want the storm,
the wind, the water,
i want to be ravaged by the
wrath of unkind gods.

i know this wish
may not be kind

threats of storms ravage
those who prefer to hold tight
to rock and earth
and toss bodies
like crumpled paper
hoping to cling
on to abandoned words.

i have not felt
that windfall, and
i do not seek to
inhabit the pain
of the others

but i can’t
help but to search the sky for
gathering clouds and sit pale in the
wind hoping for the sky to crack.

Photographer: Roberta Fotter

rooted

My toes are prone to nails ingrown;
I keep digging up my nailbeds,
like a gardener turns soil to help
flowers grow,

Though my feet were not made for flowers,
so maybe I’m made of more tree limbs;
but resounding cracks are telltale
sign of a forest falling

Because my roots never took to ground.

I am prone to uprooting myself–
there is an inherent urge to move
crawling under my skin,
limbs thirsty for solid ground;

My roots tangled up
somewhere between Chesapeake Bay
and the muddy Rio Grande;
over-watered in Georgia’s swamp lands.

And Northern Ontario’s long, harsh winters
see so much time for roots to freeze–
this ground is frozen-hard
long into spring.

But then maybe I was never a tree
never flowering dogwood, dancing in the breeze
or strong pinon pine, stretching to the sky,
nor wizened oak or mighty maple-tree.

The truth is I never identified
with constant perennial things.
I never thought of myself as
everlasting;

I always wished to be a bird
and my patterns of coming and going,
like migration, supported that:
I am notorious for leaving.

I am prone to preening:
prettying up like peacock,
but more like a rock dove:
hardy/hearty (but not much to look at).

Recently, I’ve preened so much
my feathers have begun to fall out
and fail my wish for flight

(though there are those that could fly,
and instead use their battered feet:
like a roadrunner in the desert light) 

But at least my tangled roots and faulty feathers
have proven to be
a fine nest  — built for two —

Daughters, who are still trying to spread their wings
like their mother would like to do;

Daughters, who plant flowers
with their every blessed step;

Daughters, who have taught me
that I was never meant to be a tree,
but maybe that’s where my home
was meant to be.

And I can have wings,
And still be steady.


© Maxine L. Peseke, April 2020
artwork by Katrina K Guarascio

 

Guest Poet:

Maxine L. Peseke is a writer, mother, and sometimes freelance editor. She is currently living in a small Northern Ontario town, transplanted from New Mexico respectively (and most recently) where she originally met each of Saturday’s Sirens as part of the Albuquerque poetry community.

 

Rabbit

Katrina Kaye

I am rabbit
quick
fickle

I do not retain
the elegance of bear

or the quizzical owl

I am one
with the road

and all the world

all the world
is an enemy

I am less comfort
more nervous angel

a flight path miss marked
a collision

circling the same path
bleeding the same blood

little chance for escape
less chance for
a future witness

all these tricks
will differ only slightly
leading to the end of time

I am in the dark
my walls are high

and I resist your grasp

I have become wise
at resisting your grasp

Imprint

Katrina Kaye

My body is tight in
the stillness of the a.m.
I long to touch toes,
to have purpose in my reach.

I can feel your imprint
in the bed beside me
and I know it is probably
the craze of mourning but
I swear I heard you in the
next room.

I do not open my eyes.
I refuse to look for you
and allow the knowledge of
your absence.

I prefer this gentle
hallucination. The shift
of muscles in
early morning to bind me
inside the comfort of yesterday.

A self portrait

Liza Wolff-Francis

We all have so many pictures
of ourselves these days, our own

photography of us, on our phones,
on our tablets, our own portraits

taken for granted and in them,
I am a woman changed from who I was.

My hair, a graying color of bark, of limb
of Cottonwood tree, each of my eyes,

a well closing slowly as if the years bring
a squint to the world that determines

the end of water. My neck still smooth
like satin, but with the slight stretch of elastic.

What of it tells a story? It is not as obvious
as that of a giraffe however, but holds

years of breath and swallow, talk and scream.
All this body does, my arms, my back,

my toes. These shoulders pinned forward
in a lazy Friday slump, waiting

to stretch into more formal moments.
There is no easy way to eloquently say

something so trite as: it is hard to grow old
and still we must travel onward.

Morning Bell

Emily Bjustrom

Exposed in cruel white light
The hours crash into each other
A bully’s restless hands
Tighten into apologies

The hours crash into me,
My best wishes, thoughts and prayers
Tighten into apologies
I threw myself onto this stage.

Best wishes thoughts and prayers
For the magnet in the door frame- it’ll save our lives someday
I threw myself into this
130 papercuts-for-eyes

It’ll save my life someday.
Gentle hands in soft white light
130 papercuts-for-eyes
Begging me to still the careening clock.

Last Day

Katrina Kaye

The clay we are molded
in will not harden. We
are not meant to last.

Even as we lay in post
coital glory, the tremble
still in my legs, the sweat
clinging to our bodies,
even now, we know
this is the end.

A moment shared, in all
its precious give and take,
touch and toss, comfort and
cross, is just a temporary
slip of the sun across sky.

Hold my body to yours, let
the sweat dry and consciousness
return to our extremities
let the sun fall on our last
day of summer. My dearest friend.