Highway

Katrina Kaye

Off the highway,
two miles outside of town,
the wind beckons
using a name  murmured by strangers.
It writes letters onto the skin of left hand
using an ex lover’s script
and gently presses right foot to pedal.

Open to the sky yet held earthbound,
vulnerable to asphalt and yellow lines,
entangled in turnpikes and exit signs.

Every unanswered desire
is painted inside rear view mirror,
a reminder of the path fate
once predicted, now left behind.

Between the pavement and the stars,
the road speaks violins and lifetimes,
ribbons and balloons freedom and possibilities,
the most gentle of gifts.

On this road two miles out of town,
a longing is conceived,
attached to every rib in cage,
to travel farther, to blister bare feet
with the miles trampled upon.

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

Cover of Flowers

Katrina Kaye

Dismal songs disguise
a world hidden by flowers.
Sun drops fall around
tall plant life made
of candy blue and
sweetheart red,
which shade children
playing in trees.

As gentle men take
off their hats,
small women grow
to face them,
eye to eye.

Nothing is real
until it can be touched;
nothing truly exists
until it is actualized.

If we left now,
it would be too soon,
so sit here
in the shadow of
daisies and wildflowers
and let the day pass.
Let time fall on and on
protected within
the cover of flowers.

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

tightrope

Katrina Kaye

tonight
i am tightrope

stretched
east to west
held taut

tonight
i dare you
to step on
my back

knowing your
lack of balance

knowing your
lack of precision

tonight
i am uncomfortable
under your weight

knowing you
see me
as one more
feat to complete

thinking
i am cord
and nylon and
easy conquest

i can’t wait
to watch
you fall

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

Touch

Katrina Kaye

I.

Though I have not
felt his hands,
I imagine them cold,
like my grandmother’s.

Paper thin skin loose
over rounded veins,
Ice to the touch,
gentle as baby powder.

II.

My hands are always cold,
an untreatable
hereditary condition.
My grandmother shared my fate,
hands turning
from white to blue,
numb until the pain
when the blood flows again.
Always cold.

III.

Their hands are misshapen.
This grayed man
with his large paws
and patient one toothed grin.

He rubs his hands
together, stoking
a fire that has long
abandoned his veins.

Her yellowed fingernails,
a mangled band aid.
It is dirty, old,
it needs to be removed,
the cut revealed.

Expose water winkled flesh.

I imagine her hands
must be warm,
like her temper,
nails sharp as her tongue.

Two lovers mixing
to a temperate balance
lasting over 68 years.

IV.

He shares
the patience and stillness.

He touches her skin,
as her hands drop.
They are gray and they are blue.
They are cold.

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

The Dead

Katrina Kaye

There is
a hand
on my spine

pressing
backbone
under water.

I feel
the winkled
fingerprint

tattooed
into flesh.

It makes
me think
of the years

you pressed me
under your thumb.

All the times
I came
when you called,

eager at your door

only to receive
the scraps
you flung to
impassioned jaws.

Your fingers
never bruised me;

my teeth
never scraped
your hand.

I was held
at arm’s reach
secure

between palm
and fingers

left to
kick and curse,

powerless.

I have no idea
how to climb
back to the surface.

But I do
understand
how one might
arrive on dry land

only to curse
the sand in
the cracks
between toes.

My patience is
heavy and this
sickness shakes
me to the bone.

I am not the one
to recite a
memoir for the dead,

I am better
practiced
at letting go,

allowing the water
to pull me under
and dissolve.

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

I come to you

Katrina Kaye

I come to you
warm and bleeding.
Raw and unbleached.

A slice across Achilles tendon,
unfelt shave of skin
that gushes ripe,
and drips footprints across
your Persian rug.
An invitation to follow.

I come with tact in hand,
spotting handshake,
staining interwoven lifelines.
The kindness presented to me
stabbed through palm.

In anticipation of your cold hands
and medicinal lips,
I offer a sun burn across my thighs.
A collection of rain drops
held tight in Mason jar.

I bring rose gardens
guarded by chain link fence
and two rows of razor wire,

an empty bottle
with my lipstick on the neck,
a cloche spouting sparrow feathers,
a jockey’s whip,
and an ex lover’s name
tattooed on skin that has
never seen the heat of flame.

You never ask where I’ve been;

You tend scratches,
recite a romance of battle
with gravel in your throat.
Show me two broken ribs,
and a bootleg audio of a concert
I was too drunk to remember.

You reciprocate generosity
with lean strokes of your stare
across my worse for wear face,

and whisper how my split nails,
calloused heels, and reckless speech
made you a better man.

“I come to you” is previously published in The Fall of a Sparrow (2014).

When the Time Comes

Katrina Kaye

the moons I manipulated
will cease to swing
and shatter to earth

I will settle
softly upon the bottom
layer of soil,
a place where
weeds and mildew
proliferate

I will rot under the leaves
weathered flesh
and weakened bones,

it all decays
in the absence of light
there are no gods

there is only a fallen leaf
catching the wind,

lying separate,
teaching us
we all die

alone

“When the Time Comes” is previously published in the collection, my verse, published by Swimming with Elephants Publications, LLC in 2012.

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Melquiades and Loretta

Katrina Kaye

He outlived her by twenty-three years,
yet they remain nestled together in the earth.

I can’t help but wonder if he spent
those years alone, stuck in a daughter’s
kitchen with obnoxious grandchildren
and great-grandchildren weaving around
his knobbed knees and kitchen table.

I wonder if he had other lovers,
later in life, the kind that meet late
at movies or intertwine hands on park
benches, secret affairs he kept from
controlling daughter.

Did he tell Loretta his secrets?
Ask her for forgiveness?
Come to grey marker after Sunday mass
to confess the sins he held in his heart?

Did he talk about her on the last days,
walk an 84-year-old crooked gait,
mistake the silhouette of his daughter
over the kitchen sink as long
departed wife?

Did he call her her mother’s name
without even realizing the mistake
and did he wake to a daughter’s sharp glance
before walking back to the porch to slump
on front bench in final silence?

“Melquiades and Loretta” is previously published in Graveyard Collection (2015).

The Third Time

Katrina Kaye

The third time you came back,

I took you to my bedroom
and let you watch me undress.

I never let you touch me.

You slept beside my naked body
for six hours in the August heat
without once caressing the fine hairs

on my thighs.

I should have known then
attachment was more than skin,
hunger not strictly animal.

I curse myself for chasing your tail

and allowing you to catch mine.
Never could rid your bitters from my blood,
scrape your salt off my tongue.

Your proximity is my conception of euphoria
and everything I know better about
pacifies in your dimpled grin.

We lay across from each other,

hoping reason will surpass compulsion,
sweat out fixation for another two hours.

Letting infatuation, appetite, and obsession
rise to the surface of spotted skin
you are not allowed to touch.

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

Myth

Katrina Kaye

In the darkness
I had you.

On vast plains,
in deep caves,
you were there.

We rode bareback
over land that provided
food, drink, and shelter.
What it did not give,
you could.

I waited out the snow
with you in my arms,
surviving off your heat.

And when spring came,
sun baked life back into the earth,
into the people;

I was already there

alive with you.

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