Autumnal Apologia

Don’t write of every one that falls, from branch at Autumn-time;
Resist those vibrant colours gone to rust and gold, from lime.
No need to mark the pull of breeze that tugs from tender tree;
Better men than we, have said it all, so leave it be.

Don’t speak of sugared-maples, in their burning-glory daze;
Of lazy oaks, slow-turning acorns’ minions to a blaze,
Of dogwood’s purple palmates; birches, high, of honeyed hue;
Abundant odes of homage have been writ to pay their due.

And yet, the flutter, floating free, that carries each one down,
The dance of profuse partners, tumbling, tripping top to crown,
Can turn the head unfailingly, the pen to page, so fleet,
Each instance when a leaf descends to earth, its end to meet.

So we’ll forgive the impulse, once again, to talk of this:
Nature’s shedding season, bedding down for winter’s kiss.

Kat Mortensen©2010


Halloween* Humbug

I’m not one of those who digs Halloween* night,
When the zombies and vampires and mummies will call.
Their grease-painted faces don’t give me a fright;
I’m not one of those who digs Halloween night.
With their “TRICK OR TREAT!” chorus beneath the porch-light,
And their grasping for sweets as they throng in the hall,
I’m not one of those who digs Halloween night,
So I’m shutting up shop and I’m going to the mall!

Kat Mortensen©2010

*I have long since given up putting the apostrophe in “Hallowe’en”; nobody seems to care anymore.

My Funeral

Don’t display glads
at my funeral
or play, Amazing Grace.
A glad is far too pretty
with its furling, frilly face.

I don’t deserve that rousing hymn,
that slaves in hope once sang.
“Lord, Is It Mine?” in whimpers
is better than a bang.

Scatter marguerites round the altar
and bunches of Van Gogh’s flowers,
where they’ll lay my corpse to be incensed
and sprayed with holy showers.

Don’t wear all-black and sombre;
(I won’t be)
It’s too funereal.
Wear something white
and flowing—much more ethereal.

Above all else,
Do not shed tears; for I’ll be happy,
not be sad.
Remember this, I loved my life;
I want you to feel glad.

Kat Mortensen©2015

Daddy Sends The Banshee

Those nights,
when the wind is bashing
the window-screens
‘til they bone-rattle
(charnel-house choppers
in a glass by the bed

As I lie awake,
in that nowhere-world
of memory and tomorrow’s plans,
I hear her cry
through the neighbouring birch,
and the pinnacle of pines that lines
the cemetery wall.

It is then I recall,
my Irish father’s
witch-cackle of glee,
as he caught me off-guard
(jumping out from behind the turret at that castle;
masking up and knocking at the front door
He snickers yet
in my soft wet ear.

My head holds firm to the pillow,
plastered to the plumpest spot,
where I find small comfort
from the wail of Daddy’s banshee
coming for me,
but the wood-frame windows
hold her out.

She’s very cross now;
her pitch is high and shrill,
as my pillow
swallows me whole,
and I go to a better place
where lambs frolic in the afternoon sun
and blades of grass
are there
to be whistled.

Kat Mortensen©2010

Bloody Oranges

So ‘e says to me, Eve, he says,
I thought you said
you bought some oranges.
I bin through the fruit bin twice
and I don’t see no
bloody oranges!

Well, I mean, I was in the middle
of me breakfast—forking up some bits
off me plate.

Bloody oranges. I’ll give…

You woulda done the same—
well, p’raps not the eye, I grant ya,
but I ‘as me breaking point—
‘e knows that if anyone does.

So what if I only bought apples this week?
Would it kill ‘im to eat a nice, juicy, red apple?

Bloody oranges!

Kat Mortensen©2011

Air Raid

A sullen golden spider caught my eye,
When deft, it snatched a vespoid on the screen.
I’d seen it once enfold an errant fly;
Not nearly as impressive had that been.

I waited at the sink, standing enthralled,
As fast a shroud was fashioned of pale thread,
Ensuring that escape was so forestalled,
From netting round about the spun-one, spread,

And as I watched the drama on this stage,
Though happy at a hated foe’s demise,
I felt my heart-string tug, at silver gauge,
That smothered wasp, which caught me by surprise.

Kathleen Mortensen©2009

The Ghost of Arcimboldo


Permetta me tell-a you a story. (Scusate il mio Inglese.)

My name ees, Giuseppe.
I was once, how-you-say? un artista – an artist?

Ogni-notte, long long time ago,
I getta this great idea!
I’m a-gonna make a beeg joke.
For my next work, I paint
a puzzle—a funny riddle!
I will bee da most famous
painter in Prague anna
back een my town – Milano.

At first all ees okay.
I am inspire by da theengs
I see around me.
I comporre mi ritratti
with every theeng
inna my world and ees good!
I theenk da people they will LOVE it!

BUT! Ogni notte,

Alla tha time I am tossing
and turning inna my bed.
Each a night a feesh is flying
on da ceiling anna my books
they all a falling offa da shelves
zucchini is rolling around
on da floor like a bambino
anna mele(ap-ples?)dropping
fromma da sky again an again.

I turn-a to la donna inna my bed
anna she open her olive eyes
i can kees her pomodori leeps
only when my own are a-closed
(always this happen to me)

Every where dere ees
il giardino di terrene delizie
Bruegel anna Bosch—molte grazie!

Alla da belladonnas
always dey have—
sulle loro facce/mi scusi—
on their faces, how-you-say? the fruita—
da vegeta—ble?  uva, pesci,etcetera.
Non posso avere il mio pene fino!
(You must look-a dat one up.)

So you see, zee joke,
it is all onna me!

I die long time ago
(very long time now)
steel I have-a da crasy dreams.
Me anna Salvador,
we sit atta table together
over una bottiglia di vino
anna we laugh!
Ha ha ha!

Kat Mortensen©2012