Mule

Katrina Kaye

I am mule.

My bay, an obnoxious yap
from graying muzzle,
as I move from under master’s whip.

My velvet ears twitch
with distrust for the acts of man.

I will not be owned
and have grown impatient
with the repeated deeds of
those who claim to know what’s best,

so I become obstinate
with mud to my knees
rebelling by standing still,
immovable in open stall
despite the whistle on the wind.

I want only a gentle hand, but deny
those offered me as though
their compassion was insult or pity.

No longer do I hold plough forward,
but I long to safeguard the moments
as they are gifted: one sunset, one thoughtful word,
one cube of sugar, one kindness at a time.

Surely, this perseverance
will lead me to dry pastures where only
the occasional fly distracts from
solitude and peace.

Everyone has a Summer

Katrina Kaye

Mine involved boys and alcohol,
late nights, loud music and bonfires,
a little red dress I bought on sale.

I balanced on platform shoes,
etched black eyeliner around lashes,
eager to be a little more than what I was.

I used to smoke cigarettes.
It was an excuse to make
eye contact, slip away with someone,

discuss poetry — or was it
philosophy? — share a strawberry flavored
kiss, and whisper a secret or two.

There was a summer I danced
on a block at the Pulse nightclub
to Siouxsie and the Banshees

almost every Thursday night
in that little red dress with the open back
and side slit, neon light and billowing smoke.

Everyone has a summer,
but there is no reason to be dismayed
when the fall comes.

Even in autumn months,
a night or two may recapture me
to a place of little consequence.

There are still late nights
when I have a drink too many,
kiss the boys on the patio,

kiss the girls on the neck.
Smoke a cigarette from
the brand I quit years ago.

But then I watch myself in mirrors
shadowed with soot, see my city lie in dust,
wondering who else feels the chill in the air.

I’ve grown past the green of my prime,
and, although I wilt, there is a young woman
with a too loud laugh wearing a red dress

who still exists somewhere in the pit of me,
because giving in to the animal
until the sun rises can be so breathtaking.

 

Another Poem About Grief

Katrina Kaye

Stop trying  to be strong.
You do not have to make vows or resolutions or promises.
You do not have to put on a brave face.
You do not have to be patient or kind or tough.
All you have to do is allow the reality of the events to wash over you.

You will have the rest of your life
to learn how to live again,
to become the person you used to be,
or a new stronger version of your former self,
for now, survive, in any way you can.

The days won’t stop,
no matter how you may wish them to do so.
Time doesn’t stop for a broken heart,
although we wish it would,
although it feels like it might.

You do not have to listen to their
sympathies if it does do not suit you.
Be silent. Be alone.
If conversation doesn’t provide comfort,
let the calls go unanswered.
You have nothing to prove.

Let the coffee grow cold in the mug.
Look for him in the familiar places.
Reach out to his side of the bed.
Collect the pictures, all of them you can find.
Leave the television on so that you can chase off the silence.
So you feel less alone. So it can lull you to sleep.

Your armor and shield have been taken from you.
Feel shock, feel helpless, feel overwhelmed.
Feel nothing at all, if that is what it takes.

Your world will not be rebuilt in a day,
A week, a year. It will not be rebuilt the same.
It will never be the same. Nothing will.

Learn how to breathe without him beside you.
Learn how to speak to a man who will not be able to answer.
Learn to walk on your own.
There is no rush. The world will wait.
There is time.

For now,
grieve in whatever way suits you.
Survive the day, hour by hour,
survive the hour, minute by minute,
second by second.
The world will continue.
All you must do is survive,
survive, survive, survive.

Transparent

Katrina Kaye

I am nothing,
if not transparent;

skin a shallow
cloak
clearly
spotted with
intentions
colored and
shaded by layers
of cells
unfurling.

I am missing teeth,
the stubbornness
of religion; I am mourning
more than I thought I would.

I am combat.
I am ridiculous.
I am nothing
but a smile
and a lazy morning.

I am coated in silent patience
and an empty womb; I am settled
in the sunlight of afterthought;
a million miles removed.

I am nothing
if not easy to
see through.

I am ghost,

transparent,

nothing.

I have learned

Katrina Kaye

We spent the first part
of Sunday digging a splinter
out of his foot on the back stoop.
A cloudy, windy morning. A painful,
yet bearable procedure.

The splinter callused over 
so we broke the skin to dig.
I began the excavation,
but after so many flinches
and moans, I let him do it
himself.

I have learned it is easier
to inflict pain on yourself
than to let someone you love
do it to you.

The splinter was a stubborn
thing and by the time it was
out there was a hole of pink
flesh and clear pus left in
its wake. I did what I do best
and cleaned the open wound.
Alcohol, antiseptic, and bandage.

He said a bandage wouldn’t hold.
It will help, I say, I have learned
it will help.

While she sleeps,

Katrina Kaye

I watch the clouds gather
outside the bedroom window

the snow is coming

please let the snow come

the hush of the early morning
wraps itself around me
turning my breath to ghost

While she sleeps,
I make coffee
enough for both of us
but I know hers will go cold
before she wakes

when she wakes

if she wakes

I watch the sky
and pray for snow
let coffee bitter the tongue
release the air
stockpiled in my lungs

when I woke
I was colder than I have
ever been
I was talking to ghosts
that are still clinging to flesh and blood

When I woke,
I was alone so I stayed
beside her while she slept

across the room

in a blanket and chair

by the window

sipping the coffee and
watching the sky
praying for snow
hoping she wakes soon

so neither of us
will be alone

Desperation

Katrina Kaye

is not merely a flash of color.
You can caress it, cradle it,

wrap it around your fist
like the links of a chain.
It pinches the skin,
cuts to the pink.

I am not one to chew lips
or graze nail tips, but
on nights like this
desperation crawls beneath surface,

lurks inside rough veins roped around arm,
treads under the soft tissue of neck,
I can see it pulse.

The salt of it can
not be denied,
the stink can not
go ignored.
I have been playing
fill in the blanks
with crossed eyes only
to come to the conclusion
that all of this,

ALL OF THIS

is for nothing.

Can’t you see that?

The hiss of heartbeat
is not generous enough
and with every scratch
the healing takes a little longer.
If the skin is already dead,
then the venom will recede.
Not even a scar remains.

The cut was never that deep.

I tended my own wounds
before you ever had
a chance to see them.
There was never any pain,
I just didn’t realize
how easily skin could split.

Impulse

Katrina Kaye

when is the last time
you held sand
felt the fall
of each gradual
and wished for nothing
more than the warmth
your allowed to slip from hands

I am lingering deep
in a list of what
could have been and
relishing the simple
I have attained

I call them albas
morning songs
gibberish
they are nothing to anyone
but the melody
reminds me of a memory

yes time has passed me
forgotten my name
and kept
rolling through
like the weather
like the waves
like the pull of the moon
these things aren’t forever
despite how far they stretch

after all
there is no such thing as forever
merely here and merely now
even our breath is compulsory

do we continue the ritual and fail
or do we learn and do we go on

where does the fall take us
if not to the next season

Voice

Katrina Kaye

My speech
shudders
inside me,

a tornado
siren,

a wail
in my gut,

the echos
fade fast.

Where did my voice go?

There was a time
I could go on,
each word scorching
the tongue of
the last.

Now
I find my voice subdued.

Now
I find
I  skirt the floor
with the debris of curse
words.

I no longer
spiral pronunciations
around tongue
but let sound
idle.

Voice
needs room
to grow,
a space
to share.

Voice
needs to
cling to the
octaves of
rib cage
and swing

and scream
and hold tight,
and not be surprised
when the waves buck us
from our feet.

Kate once told me

Katrina Kaye

every poem begins
as a suicide note.
And a
well rehearsed
death
is always
winkled inside my mind,
soaking there,
dripping stalagmites,
building blocks of
the subconscious.

Counting ticks
to the end;
the story
so close
to conclusion.

Loneliness,
like rock candy
crystallizing on
popsicle sticks,
attached to rib cage,
expands and compresses
with each
shallow breath.

I don’t have fear.

Sometimes the
only thing
that gets me through
is knowing
at any minute
I can stop it all.
I can rock and roll
out of this human suit
shed soft covering,
reveal bare bone,
and empty cavern.
The sliver of power
over my life;

it is everything and
it is nothing.