Cathy’s Work

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At Breakfast, When He Turned Twelve, My Son Asked About His Birth,

The whole sky cracked

like a soft-boiled egg

smacked against the table

on a Sunday morning.

The puckering floor

crumpled and fell away

beneath my feet.

Seconds ticked 

hours before time

stopped

silence surrounded

& I fell

sailing softly on air

& you were there

just like that

asking me to breathe again

such sweet molecules

my lungs never knew.

I gulped

a waterfall slowly,

savored atoms

that slid over my sandy tongue

& down my dusty throat

to circle around my tired heart

where yours beat a tympani

to my bass

& the space that held us

filled with symphonic percussion

awaiting the strings to strike their bows

at the moment your tiny nails pierced

my skin until my ears forgot both

the clash and the silence.

I sank into the darkness of your gaze

for a count the conductor lost too:

a quiet you and I will never

hear again.

Appeared in the Poet’s Choice anthology, For Expecting Mothers, 2020

Norderney Nerves

This poem appeared in The Esthetic Apostle, May 2019.

Norderney Nerves

Visit Norderney…sooner…for the storms that batter this island are constantly reshaping the landscape. – traveler.com

You should have brought a windbreaker, child – no, woman. 

You smell the softness of iodine on the breeze that intensifies

cold sand on your soles until the breaking rays 

blind and burn the glare of your porcelain shoulder 

as fragile as the rainbow mussels’ shards piercing 

such tender feet oblivious to their luminescence. 

Low sweeps and mourning shrieks of gulls 

draw your eye to a washed-up Tern stranded

on the basalt Buhne headless, and to a misty white 

that disappears where the obsidian rolls choppy. 

This is neap tide when pulls of celestial bodies 

work against each other. Seagulls tossed 

in reverse-glides upward, resign to new aims.

Sand, like blizzard ice, pelts skin, chafes. 

Grass whips chaste flesh, smarting, drawing blood. 

Inky black spills into the milky turmoil of white caps 

like salt abrading our lips as we dash behind 

saddened glass that pleads to come inside too

 – knocking – pounding – whining. 

An enveloping dome of charcoal-blue frames the deck flags 

held back on poles like violent boyfriends they cannot escape 

no matter how fast they run. And the bluster 

abruptly stops with the warm return of Sun.

I brought you to the sea today to calm our nerves.

I failed to consider the island weather’s temperament.

“knotted”

knotted, a book of poems, was selected as a finalist in the 2020 Broken River Prize by Platypus Press

@platypuspress

“Possession”

Selected for an honorable mention in the Difficult Fruit Poetry Prize in 2018.

ITHACALIT Poetry 

Meditation in Moss

Pupowee is a Potowatomi word for the power to push-up through earth.

Peeling Bark Floats Silver and Papery

If I write a poem about watching fire catch a log in my fireplace, 

will you say the fire is not fire and the log is something else?

 

If I describe how flames tickled their way to the log’s dead heart,

will you tell me it is a desire to fill a void  afraid to be named?

 

If I tell you the log is a volcano whose fire explodes from within, 

will you call my metaphor repressed sexual energy or poetic anxiety?

 

If I describe peeling birch bark silver and papery floating out the flue,

will you tell me my consciousness of passing time has entered the poem?

 

If I tell you that smoke is churning out a crevice and spinning like Dorothy Hamill, 

will you say time is of the essence, so write, write, write, and stop complaining?

 

If I write the kindling turned to coals that would fill a Florida sunset with envy,

will you tell me to stop being jealous of other poets and find my own voice?

 

And if I tell you when I stoked this fire, it roared in my face, 

will you say I should turn my questions into statements?

 

I just sat down to look at the fire, but a fire always has an opinion.

Cathexis Northwest Press

Peeling Bark Floats Silver and Papery

If I write a poem about watching fire catch a log in my fireplace, 

will you say the fire is not fire and the log is something else?

 

If I describe how flames tickled their way to the log’s dead heart,

will you tell me it is a desire to fill a void  afraid to be named?

 

If I tell you the log is a volcano whose fire explodes from within, 

will you call my metaphor repressed sexual energy or poetic anxiety?

 

If I describe peeling birch bark silver and papery floating out the flue,

will you tell me my consciousness of passing time has entered the poem?

 

If I tell you that smoke is churning out a crevice and spinning like Dorothy Hamill, 

will you say time is of the essence, so write, write, write, and stop complaining?

 

If I write the kindling turned to coals that would fill a Florida sunset with envy,

will you tell me to stop being jealous of other poets and find my own voice?

 

And if I tell you when I stoked this fire, it roared in my face, 

will you say I should turn my questions into statements?

 

I just sat down to look at the fire, but a fire always has an opinion.

Cathexis Northwest Press

Vespidae

I cannot persuade myself that a beneficent and omnipotent God would have designedly created the     (wasp). – Charles Darwin

Waning summer, Fruit sweet fermentation.

Your preference – flesh – meat – protein.

Admiration.  Yellow-masked feminist.

Corseted dominatrix.  Fertilization upon

Request.  Determine your progeny’s sex.

Sting in frenzy at your sisters’ distress.

Heroines wearing yellow jerseys.

Catherine de Medici. Victoria. Polaire.

Laces, ivory, wood, whalebone, horn.

Fabricated diminutive corps.

Petiole between leaf and stem.

Precarious bridge. Vital suspension.

Papery brother of working girls.

I swat one into fetal curl,

as they invade my home, my place of rest.

Pheromones wake the wasps’ nest.

Publications Featured In

Cathexis Northwest Press

Esthetic Apostle

Noble Gas Quarterly