Gods and Prophets

Katrina Kaye

Of course
Kerouac
had no fear,
cocaine was
easy to
come by.
Revolution does
not stem
from the sober,
solitary mind,
but from a rebellion
fueled by adrenaline
and endorphins
and synapses,
snap
snap
snapping
like dried up
saplings
and words that
trickle from
numb tongues
faster than white
powder up paper
straw, but does that
give meaning?
purpose?
insight?
On enough blow
anyone can talk to
god or become
a prophet,
on the fifty
second hour we
can all read each
other’s mind.
Kerouac was no
different,
he merely hit
the road,
bummed around,
locked himself
in his cave for three
days and let the
paper fly from
typewriter.

“Gods and Prophets” is previously published in Roi Faineant Literary Press (2021).

Apology

Katrina Kaye

I hear the insomnia is back;
that your arms betray you as
they search for the heat
of my body in your bed.

I hear you seek
my scent in your pillows,
strands of hair in your sheets.

But lover,
the only plot we ever shared was rented
in a back room or highway hotel.

I have never been in your bed,
why would you look for me there?

You slept soundly
wrapped in the idea of me,
but the collage
reflected from your eyes
is not the milkweed which hangs on limbs.

I am broken strings,
misread maps,
the insecure song of wind chimes;
I told you before we began.

We were only granules rushing toward
the bottom of hourglass.

I am sorry I didn’t consult you before
pushing ornament to floor,

allowing the shatter before
the sand ran through.

Lover,
I regret the pain I caused you.
The false hope of a finale exclusive
to Hollywood movies and backwood mythologies.

But I do not regret the days we tangled,
the waves of Wednesday wordplay,
our Sunday morning communions.

Those moments, few and foreign,
remain a cracked pocket watch,
too precious to throw away
long after the ticking ceased.

I promised you tissue paper heart,
your name cradled at the base of my neck,
and a tongue that hummed battle hymns;
things never mine to give.

You were just a man,
who wanted to love and be loved in return,

But I,
I wanted to be your champion,
to reshape your dreamscape with bare feet
and an honest smile.

I wanted to be the one to chase the
monsters away.

Never doubt I didn’t burn
for 72 days at your steps before
slicing myself like a cyst from your skin.
We were time bomb;
the inescapable strain of heat to kerosene
paid its toll in endless desert road
and sheets left to chill by winter’s window.

Lover,
we always knew
where this path would wind.
The inevitable was singed
to our tongues upon first kiss.

Yet, you are still dripping from my pen.
How many poems have bared
your twisted thumbprint?

How much more will I write
before I rid myself of this affliction?

To say I love you still
isn’t myth nor gift,
it is merely one of my many sorrows.

I am nobody’s champion.

My hair holds no scent.

“Apology” is previously published in the collection, my verse…, published by Swimming with Elephants Publications, LLC in 2012.

Wounds

Katrina Kaye

I don’t want
to forget you.

But I know
space creates distance,
creates forgetfulness,
changes the tone
of our voices
till they are no longer
recognizable.

I can carry
the photograph
of you wearing
flannel and frown
looking after me
as I drove away
for only so long
before it frays
and distorts.

The memory
of the strength of your arms,
the kindness in your touch,
the colors of your eyes
offering secrets and comforts,
the way I hung on your lip
and sunk into your skin
all the reasons I told you
I would always love you,
slips from heart and mind.

I wish I still had
that slash in my heart
baring your name.
The one time healed.
The one forgetfulness
is taking from me.

Not all wounds
are asked to mend.
Some I would like to keep,
run my fingers
over scar tissue,
and smile
in sweet reminiscence
of a man who
once gave me
a world.

“Wounds” is previously published in Parade: A Swimming with Elephants Anthology (2018).

Shard

Katrina Kaye

Like glass, he shattered.

A thousand ragged pieces
slipped away from me
in the darkness.

Tiny shards of his existence
scattered into cracks and carpet,
lost until light returns
to reflect brightness into them.

But he is not waiting for the dawn,
not waiting to be put back together.
Slowly the debris settles in,
fading and returning,
like a person trying to hold on to sleep.
He stopped resisting.

And I can’t find him anymore,
not when I walk barefoot
on the kitchen floor,
not when I lie bare backed
on his Persian rug,
looking for the fragments of clear, sharp life
that once built a man.

He has been sucked up, swept up,
dug up, systematically removed.
I never imagined he’d be missed.

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

Dreams

Katrina Kaye

I dismantled my dreams,
boxed them, stacked
my closet shelves.

They grow dusty beside
shoes and short skirts
I don’t wear as often
as I thought I would.

For years these dreams waited,
only to be unwrapped upon occasion
tried on, just to see if they still fit.
But they are not for the keeping.

I am done.

Come to that cold
melancholy realization
that I will never have
the guts to remove the tags.

Instead, I rewrap them,
bestow them, make peace
as I give them to you
one by one.

I don’t give them
as a curse, although
I can attest to the lack
of joy they have brought
time after time. I hope
they will do more for you
than they ever did for me.

I hope they will fit
and you can twirl merrily
to each new step.
These things:
dreams, hopes, love,
the intangible
aspects of myself I wanted
so badly to create,
to keep and harvest.

They are not meant to be.

I know that now.
I release them to another,
no regrets, no goodbyes.

“Dreams” is previously published in You Might Need to Hear This (2021).

Identity

Katrina Kaye

Wings can fold around a broken body
like a mother’s hold, offering calm and comfort,
yet, with white feather and brittle bone,
it is possible to create shadows with jagged edges
against the walls of littered alley ways.

Do we dare fight nature
in order to create our own identity?
Do we become what is expected
instead of spreading wings and creating
a current all out own?

We have become desperate for new names.
we call ourselves rat face, time bomb, clever,
we call ourselves outcast, twisted lip, beast, child,
never what we really are.

Instead of attempting to reinvent the self
shouldn’t we just accept these marks of birth
and scars of experience so distinct upon our presence.
Let them identify our beings like a mother in a mortuary.

How does one surrender wings
that have always marked existence?
How does one become something he is not?

These wings can never truly be clipped,
just sawed down, plucked and carved,
distinction momentarily hidden
destine to grow anew.

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

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).

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).

Your Chosen Tree

Katrina Kaye

This body is the tall laurel stretched skyward.

These arms flail wildly,
always reaching too far,

serve better as branches to break
the sun from stony earth,
and streak light across your face.

This hair,
the blending of so many leaves

hide spine in the form of autumn,
fall in phases of the year,

change yellow to orange
to brown to dirt.

I cannot be your lover despite clever disguise,
and I am too old to be a flowered bride,
whose petals you stroke and
call your lovely.

Let me be your tree.

I stand well on my own knotted knees,
my posture firm against the winking of eons.

Balance your feet
on my
rigid roots,

stare at my silhouette
blackened against setting sun,
touch battered bark with tentative stroke.

My weathered skin
remembers past affections,
the words carved
into trunk remain there still.

And when I am no longer picturesque
and you no longer call me darling,
I will still hold
memory
in my gathering rings
and sprout blossoms of fruit
to scatter
around you.

When you come,
I’ll be where you left me,
happy to shade your head.

Take this token in place of me.
Be contented to wood and debris,
and regret not
your foolish play with bows and arrows.

“Your Chosen Tree” is previously published in The Fall of a Sparrow (2014).

Time

Katrina Kaye

He says
he will make
time for me,

as if time is
a tangible thing
that can be woven
among baby’s breath,
wrapped in shiny
paper and ribbon,
and gifted at
front door.

As if time is
a silver necklace
with a knot in its chain,
a string of
green yarn
knit into
favorite sweater.

As if time can
be folded
like an origami acrobat
and added to
ornaments on mantle.

As though you
can conceive time
as easily as opening
passenger door
or buying the next round.

So do it, Darlin’
make time for me.

Create it from
your hands,
like a dove
under your sleeve.

Give me Sunday mornings
warm in your bed,
lingering coffee cups.

Lend me late night confessions
without worry for sleep
and kitchen floor tangos
where no time ticks.

Grant me the chance
to hold on to time
like you held on to my body,
fully with both
arms securely wrapped.

Gift me yesterdays
that slipped sly past.

Allow me to
stroke time slow,
savor its flavor,

leave time malleable
so I can fold into it,
stretch it like pink bubble gum
between the place we met
and the night we end,

mold time like red clay
against the distances I ran
and the sunrise I slept through.

I want to see time
instead of missing it.
I want to put a name to it
instead of a vacant hole
in my stomach.

Make time for me.
Weave it thread by thread,
quilt it into blue blanket
larger than just
the cover of my body,

so there is room
for you beside me.

“Time” is previously published in Flare (2019).