water rises

Katrina Kaye

Sometimes
water rises

levees break
floods erupt

sometimes
it’s slow

invisible to the eye
yet
apparent

sloshing up your legs
sagging a run into
a slow motion walk

waist deep

shoulder
neck
just above the break

sometimes
we drown

the smallest puddles
a missed birthday
forgotten pill
ringing telephone

sometimes oceans
alienation, heartbreak, childhood, morality, mortality
rip through

consume
enclose

crush

leaves us clinging like seaweed
still on the vein

sometimes water rises

sometimes it’s easier
to stand still
and let the water
rise

“water rises” is previously published They Don’t Make Memories Like That Anymore (2011).

Cahir

Katrina Kaye

They said it was
impregnable, but
we wandered in.
They left the portcullis raised
and cannon balls protruding.
We shuffled past
musket holes
and bow slits,
through the village,
towards the inner ward,
and into the keep.

We passed over with
an invader’s freedom.
We crept through it all,
sneaking into every crack,
like rats,
or lice.

We danced in the Great Hall
and raced to the top of the fortress walls.
From there we could see the
door they used to escape
when the siege broke and
the fires caught hold.

We passed the slick stones
and low ceilings of the jail.
Then crept up the narrow stairs
to the top of the tower.

We watched the Suir pushing around us.
We named a herring
that fished up stream
and for a moment
this was our world.

Then, like so many before us,
we were gone.

“Cahir” is previously published in A Scattering of Imperfections (2009).

Birdsong

Katrina Kaye

inspired by 1984

A thrush
alight on bough
in the sun

spread wings
then flit them carefully
into place

duck head
an obeisance to the sky
then pour forth
a torrent of song
startling

the bird shows
of its virtuosity
on and on
minute by minute

stops
spread and resettle wings
swell speckled breast
burst again

for whom?
for what?

No mate,
no rival watches,
lonely wood
pouring song
into the nothingness

mixes with
sunlight filtered
through leaves

stop thinking
merely feel

“Birdsong” is previously published on Rabbits for Luck (2016).

 

Silence

Katrina Kaye

Silence sat
on the
corner of
cheekbone
and 12th.

She goes
unnoticed,
defies the wind,
flits the skin,
begs recognition.

It is the same
silence that
barricades the
veins with
over sized
platelets causing
the heart
to cease
a beat.

Creating a
moment
of complete
stillness between
our bodies until
with the
tip of finger

eyelash is
removed
and with
pursed lips,
blown away.

“Silence” is previously published in To Anyone Who Has Ever Loved a Writer (2014).

Water

Katrina Kaye

I want to be
river:

persisting despite rocks
and debris,
moving forward
until the discovery of peace
distinct as reflection
in puddling pond’s
shimmering surface.

I want to be
ocean:

calm when captured,
but contain currents
with the capacity to
overturn ships
and drown a man.

I want to be
rain:

unpredictable as the
size of each drop,
holding the promise
of life as well as the
threat of storm.

I want to be
water:

content to fish bowl,
yet curious for more.
shapeless and vast,
heavy and ethereal.

Like water,
I want to be strong,
indiscernible,
and necessary.

“Water” is previously published in Rabbits for Luck (2016).

The Painter

Katrina Kaye

He wanted to be a painter.

He wanted to paint himself at sixteen,
standing tall on mountain top,
a golden warrior for the helpless,
a beast of burden ready to sacrifice
for tomorrow’s promises.
That’s how he saw himself
when he closed clouding eyes.

Always careful to refuse limitations.

He was ambivalent to skin rubbed raw,
the formation of blisters on hardened heels,
and the weight strapped upon back leaving
marks against white freckled skin.

It took finely sliced transparencies
to etch out the idea that this perception
was self imposed.

Petrified on haunches, he watched
as the reverberation between the hum
drum of reality and the fleeting images of
fancy fabrication left him weak.

The last attempt he made at reclaiming his identity
came in a self portrait:

sprawling crow’s feet and age spots,
so close to his mother’s angry mood
he doesn’t recognize the expression on lips.

A child swallowed inside rib cage
who has been screaming for years.
A man who can’t recognize
lead poisoning seeping into tongue.

He still wants to paint a portrait of life,
a portrayal of desperation and disappointment,
capture howl in brush stroke and oil base,

display the hollow of gut
in strangled sketch and charcoal dust,
portray innocence, youth, freedom
in the colors on canvas.

But the paints have dried,
hardening bristles to stone.
He is merely a man,
too tired to rekindle the
spark long ago abandoned.

He once believed he
could be something magnificent.

“The Painter” is previously published in The Fall of a Sparrow (2014).

Re Shape

Katrina Kaye

I disentangle
myself from
the woman
I used to be

allow her
to rest

her time
well spent
has ended

and now

I mold
with broken
finger and
roughened palms

another cast
another face

eyes and bones
and stitched lips
I do not
recognize
in the mirror

only to
shed her
in time
as well

and begin
again

“Re Shape” is previously published in Rabbits for Luck (2016).

Release

Katrina Kaye

I practice release:

For too many years I kept
carcasses baited on hook,
held skeletons long
after their slow decay.

My house reeks of
decomposition.
The dust piled heavy
on unread books,
the sand on windowsill
that comes from the
March winds.

It is time to practice release:

Open windows,
leave doors ajar,
allow the cat to slip in
and out around unkempt stoop.

Burn poems, pictures, throw away
artwork piled behind dressers.
Dismiss the bundled burden of
birthday cards from shoebox.

All the keepsakes that define
who I was are no longer relevant
to whom I have become.
Let them dissolve into sand
and seep through fingers,
sticking and scattering
where it may.

“Release” is previously published in Rabbits for Luck (2016).

Breeze

Katrina Kaye

I hope for a morning breeze,
cool air against hot skin.
I want to feel the creep,
the bite,

but the air is stiff,
hanging thick and cruel.

I cannot help but wonder at
the slap and kick of destiny.
The way the seasons tricked
me into loosing track of sunrises
and thunder storms.

I became immune to thirst,
the burn of flame to finger,
the squeeze and release of
sunburn on across my back.

The curse of burnt grass under hot sun
doesn’t prick my heel like it once did.

I became somehow clean;
wrapped in white sheets,
tied tight to sunlight.

And yet,
I long for comfort in the still of morning.
Something new and fresh
to chill heated skin.

Summer cooled by open window,
the soft breeze of morning air
slipping in,
letting go.

“Breeze” is previously published in September (2014).

Order September today or check it out on Kindle Unlimited through Amazon.

Warrior

Katrina Kaye

There is a problem
with becoming a warrior;

a sense of posture and
responsibility once
established is near
impossible to slouch.

Despite the tattoos,
scars, and harsh vocabulary
there are grenades
crumbling in my chest.

The child sacrificed
is hollering
through bones,
rattling through
circulation.

I carved a line that
cannot be uncrossed.

This shield can’t be dropped
for fear of an exposed vein.
My bow ever present
for fear of an empty hand.

The lullabies I forever
hummed by heart have
turned too sweet
to pass through these split lips.

It has been years
since the perfection of childhood,

yet I still curl like innocence
into the corners of my bed,
lying still so as not to be found.

“Warrior” is previously published in September (2014).

Order September today or check it out on Kindle Unlimited through Amazon.