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.

Silence

Katrina Kaye

Silence sat
still on the
corner of
cheekbone
and 12th street.

It goes unnoticed,
defies the wind,
flits the skin,
begging recognition.

It is the same
silence that
barricades the
veins with oversized
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.

Hot

Katrina Kaye

It’s a hot night.

A walk around in bra
and cut off jeans night.

A what I wouldn’t give
for refrigerated air night.

The kind that leaves
sweat on abdomen.

Beads of moisture
around hairline.

The kind of night
that makes me crave

a cold beer to press
on heated flesh,

a swirl of cigarette smoke
over my head.

It would be a good night
for honest conversation,

for philosophy and poetry
and genuine laughter,

for being close to the
heat of another body,

but far enough to not
burn from the touch.

I lick my teeth
and raise my chin.

I transform
animal, untamed, restless.

I am eager
to turn off the lights,

certain I will
glow in the dark.

On days like this

Katrina Kaye

One days like this
I feel like the pills
stopped working, that
I need a higher
dose and I consider
calling my doctor,
saying I can’t
get out of bed, saying
there is nothing
here for me.

On days like this,
I hug friends for no
reason and don’t let go.
My dog’s brown eyes make
me cry when I have no time
to take him for a walk,
and I think I need a
new prescription,
to call someone,
to disappear for a while.

On days like this,
on days like this,
I think of my mother
and how she has made it
through days like this.
I must make it too.

On days like this,
on days like this,
I think of the clever words
I should have written
in bathroom stalls
in big, black sharpie marker.
I think about what
I should have be said
the last time we met
and how that moment is
forever gone.

On days like this,
On days like this,
I think of the woman driving
the bus the same age as me
and wonder if she’s happy.
I think of all the little
lost marbles and pens
that never had a chance
to run out of ink.
I think about the rock
not pretty or special enough
to be collected and
the way the world ends
when you die.
I think of the promises
I made to myself and
the silence that came
when I broke them.

On days like this,
on days like this,
on days like this,
I don’t know if I can
make another day
like this.

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.

Disintegration

Katrina Kaye

I am no longer
tied to
the tangible.
I spread
wings. I fly.
Dripping
flesh from bone,
leaving cells
skipping
into the wind.
I wasn’t built
to be statue.
You knew it
the first time
you grabbed
my hand and
it dissipated
like sand.

 

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.

Letters

Katrina Kaye

He was never articulate,
educated yet unimaginative.
He knows this.
He knows I know this.

It is not that I expect poetry
over prose. I am the writer
between the two.
It is an old anxiety
only recently resurfaced.

He does not write to me.
Instead he sends me sketches.

One of coffee in a paper cup,
planes in the background through large
thick windows.
One of the rails of a balcony with a
river rushing below.
One of me, lip bite and eyes shining
as I watched him go.

His words are simple,
“I miss you” and “thank you.”

In my letters,
I ask him about the weather,
he sketches the rain on the window.
I ask him if he is keeping busy,
he sketches a sketch of him sketching
within a sketch of him sketching.

I ask him if he’s lonely,
he sketches my face among the rumpled
blankets of morning, sun streaking
from the windows behind me.
He sketches two children playing
invisible violins and reading each other’s palms.

Her ghost does not haunt these pictures,
and I wonder where he keeps her now.

If her wrapped body still
hangs heavy in his hands,
if the slideshow in his mind
still flashes on her crumpled body.
If he still blames himself
for being moments too late.

I know he does.

I ask him if he had forgiven himself,
he sketches houses rebuilt and clear skies.
In a moment of weakness,
I ask him if I will ever see him again.
To this he replies with words,
hand scrawled and sloppy,
“I count the days, my dearest friend.”