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 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.

 

I have always loved the tree outside my window

Now more than ever, I watch it,

in its stillness, I watch as it moves 

in the breeze. I have been outside 

to wrap my arms around it, 

as far as they will reach, 

to lie in the grass beside it, stare up 

at its height. If I could explain 

wisdom, surely it would be 

the lines in this tree’s bark.

This tree is unafraid to take space, 

it welcomes the birds 

with deep voice wisdom

that comes from staying in one place

year after year, observing 

the movement around it. 

This tree listens to the whisper 

of sparrows, the plans of hawks 

and ladybugs, its dug-in roots, planted.

The other trees know this one,

respect this one, it has stood 

over time, through seasons, 
open armed, branches extend out 

reaching to the world, to the universe,

to me, to us, some of its buds 

wait to pop, some already 

in full green, telling the others 

that now is the time, 

to not be afraid.

-Liza Wolff-Francis

LOTS OF LOVE OUT

LOTS OF LOVE OUT

Do you need strength in this moment?
Have you forgotten to love self?
To feel loving kindness?
Are you wandering from room to room?
Or sitting numb on your couch?
Are you cleaning the kitchen, again?
The bathroom, again?
Scrubbing boredom away.
Empty hours stack up—minutes turn into days.
Time is endless.
The only excitement is groceries being delivered
and finally, they had in stock a beautiful, organic tomato.

A prayer of thanks.

In the garden, your seeds just begin.
You pull weeds so seeds have room to grow.
The sun shines today.
The dog carries his ball in his mouth,
his tongue out the side panting.
The birds sing,
a Cooper Hawk flies from tree to tree
building nest.

It is the little things

that bring breath
and calm. Lilacs bloom.
You give some to your daughter
so she can place on her nightstand.
You make her blueberry banana muffins with crumble on top,
plain banana muffins for son.
After a shower and clean hair, the night settles.
Your prayers and wishes
for connection settle the soul.
It is not in others, but in self that prayers are answered

in the little things—

all tremendous blessings hidden in sweet
breaths. Inhale, exhale.
Big breaths in. Lots of love out—
sleep brings peace and tomorrow is a new day.

© Gina Marselle, 2020

Pair

Being is inside and out of any person.
Therefore, inside ourselves we find both reflection and external expression.
It is one’s duty to consider both in equal esteem.
Can one be both internal and external and live within the empirical world?
The empirical world is created though both experience and consideration.
To be is to consider and experience.

***

Halfway to absolution
My body is a tether to this house
Which is a second skin
This city, the third- crawling as it is

I am heavy twice
Once for the hands that slide into my dreams
Once for the hands that stop short of my waking skin

Like Me

Be content with what you have;
rejoice in the way things are.
When you realize there is nothing lacking,
the whole world belongs to you. (44)

~from The Tao Te Ching by Lao-Tzu translation by S. Mitchell

Sometimes, sleep sits empty
on a brick wall.
It doesn’t waver or fall,
it’s thin smoke,
anxiety on a string
swaying in a spring breeze,
more gently than a tire swing—

like me.

I count how many likes on my poem,
posted on social media:
only one today;
six the other day;
zero the day before that–
and the poems sit empty
unread,
unliked,

like me.

Anxiety takes hold of my breath,
holds it hostage,
sucking life,
zipping it up in too tight of jeans
until stomach aches,
and vomit sneaks up the windpipe
never to escape.
But sits there, uncomfortable—

like me.

Even if my life is uneventful,
I still try
to make the day worth something.
I love the sunrise as much as breath,
I love the warmth radiating on my skin,
hands in dirt planting carrot seeds, beets
radishes for their vibrant colors
for their sweet or bitter taste,
hoping they take root—

like me.

My roots are not tied down to place,
but to memory,
to my children,
to poems,
even if unread—
my name ties them to earth
and root.
Showing the universe
I’m here.
Life has meaning
and, maybe, in that moment
that I posted that poem,
bravery stood up—

like me.

Sometimes, anxiety punches me in the gut,
knocks the wind right out of me
and maybe I’ll fall,
and then again, maybe I won’t.

Each morning that I wake up,
grateful for another chance…

© Gina Marselle, April 26, 2020

Take Root | April 2020| Image by Gina Marselle

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

Pantoum for our planet of crows

Crows gather in the Cottonwood tree,
blacker than night holds me.
Even the birds are our children here
if we see ourselves as becoming land and sky.

Blacker than night holds me,
shadows and dreams of sleep.
If we see ourselves as becoming land and sky,
we may never sleep again.

Shadows and dreams of sleep
that poke me awake with skeleton fingers.
We may never sleep again,
lost to the fascinatingly hateful chatter of crows

that poke me awake with skeleton fingers.
It’s not the death of our planet that scares me,
lost to the fascinatingly hateful chatter of crows,
it’s the death of us that rakes me awake.

It’s not the death of our planet that scares me,
night terrors of holding our children over the flames,
it’s the death of us that rakes me awake.
Crows invite death into today’s sun.

Even fighting, we may go down without sound.
Crows gather in the Cottonwood tree,
each day brings new air and chatter.
Even the birds are our children here.

Liza Wolff-Francis

Something for your Hands

I want to give you something for your hands:
all the jokes I made
at 17 when the world was young
and I was old
enough to know the difference
between lust and survival.

I want you to take it-
my cynicism-
and rub it against your palm
for the friction.

I want something for my hands:
your mouth and ears and the places they meet.
I want to hold them
like candles.

Our Task

One may believe that our task as mothers
is simply to love our children.
Some can.
Some can’t.
Some can’t see the yellow moon
or waves slap against the shore
or their worth.
They run like wind on tails of mustangs.
Hearts armored with granite
stitched together with fallen rose petals,
shattered mirrors—
thin shards that slit throat—
killing that one chicken that always scurried up to the porch
when called out the back door, “Here, kitty, kitty…”

Some kind of crazy, a made-up horror film.
Sometimes true.
That chicken’s feathers were plucked,
emptied blood and guts,
Nowadays, kids don’t farm.
It may be grotesque,
but it is how chickens come to plate.
Fried in an old, black cast iron pan.
Oil splatters stove—
grease is difficult to remove
like memory.
A homemade dinner served
with a box of cheap red wine.

An apocalypse hurts less.

Our tasks as mothers is simply to love our children.
Some can.
Some can’t.

My mother stopped loving me probably when I was 8.
I don’t blame her.
Or her mother.
Or my Great Grandmother.

They were all alcoholics. No one taught them how to mother or love.
They did the best they could.
There was no al anon. Or one day at a time.
Just a poison inside a bottle
hidden under the kitchen sink
only for daughters to bare.

When I gave birth to my daughter 20 years ago,
I labored three days—
Finally, a C-Section.
Then daughter nursed. I promised her
for all the setting suns,
I’d do my best to love her,

cherish her, want her, adore her.

Perhaps, God will recognize my hard work.
My daily struggle to mother.
To love.

Allowing forgiveness. It’s a tremendous gift.
My mother suffers from breast cancer now.
I don’t know how she is doing,
as she doesn’t communicate with me or my brother.
Sometimes she talks to my dad (her ex). He tells us sometimes,

but lately, no one mentions her. Already a ghost.

Mother stays hidden in thoughts and journal pages.
In quiet prayers.
Perhaps, God will give me strength to say goodbye—
not in sadness at her gravesite, but in my heart, instead.

©Gina Marselle, 2020