Melancholia

The death of summer has me desolate.

Verdure goes gold, then turns  to tinder on the ground;
warm-weather birds have blown away
with the winds of autumn.

I have put my dear friends to bed—
sheared off their heads and abandoned them
to their sleep.

The first snow falls, leaving me cold;
a crow’s call cracks the sound
of silence.

Winter creeps in.

I have no illusions;  I am housebound,
until spring comes back.

Kathleen Mortensen © 2016

Back to Books

jghgbook

For some time I have been struggling with the reading of books. If you read my last poem here on Chapter and Verse you will see how I feel about it. I am pleased to say that I think I have broken the spell. That is to say, I, along with the help of someone else among you, have broken it.

When I began this blog, it was in many ways to break free of my older archived material, and to begin a new voyage of poetic discovery. I entitled the blog Chapter and Verse because I was worried that the poems wouldn’t come, but the book-reading would. Funnily enough, it has been the other way around.

I am a very big fan of the writing of the very enigmatic “Oglach” on the Na Triobloidi blog. His words captivate me at every turn, and through some lengthy exchanges back and forth in the Comments sections of our blogs, we have learned something of each other. Not the least of which is, although we grew up on different sides of the Atlantic, and I believe there is an age gap of about 14 years (I’m the older one), we have grown up with quite similar experiences – his being a born and bred Irishman, and mine, being the daughter of a born and bred Irishman who landed himself in Canada back in the 1950s.

I have come to trust “Oglach” (though I wish he trusted me enough to let me know his real name) and when he wrote about the book pictured above in his memorial tales, “Across the Room and Into the Fire”, I was determined to track the book down and crack it open. We even chatted about this, with his being certain if I could not find it at my local small-town library, surely it would be available through an inter-library loan?

Well! Not only was it available through my own library system, but when I picked it up at the circulation desk this morning, it was a brand new paperback copy! Talk about a coincidence.

One thing Oglach does not know about me, is that I was virtually raised on War movies. My father was a fanatic for them, having been in the British Army himself for 11 years, not seeing direct action (he was only 15 when he signed on), but being sent to Singapore and the Far East after the war had ended. He was a part of the Royal Corps of Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (though to be honest, I never saw much evidence of this in his later life) and though a Roman Catholic, he got along with just about anyone and seems to have thoroughly enjoyed his time as a soldier in the British Army.

As for me, one of the first movies I was ever taken to see as a child was, “The Battle of Britain”, and now I have my own collection of War Movies and a few books. I read “Black Hawk Down” by Mark Bowden a few years ago, which is definitely not for the squeamish, and surely not a big favourite with women who enjoy chick flicks (can’t say that I do). I grappled with the book, but was determined to get through it, and am very glad that I did.

I do not expect to have any trouble reading Oglach’s recommendation of this Dalton Trumbo classic. I am familiar with Trumbo’s screenplays, having seen “Spartacus”, “Exodus” and “Papillon”.

Tho’ yesterday, my book-drought was broken by a breezy whip-through of the gentle epistolary delight, “84 Charing Cross Road” by Helene Hanff, I am itching to find out what happens when, “Johnny”gets his gun.

Thanks, Oglach (whoever you really are). I am indebted to you.

Kathleen

The Death of Me

Something is killing
My love of the printed page.
I try hard to delve
Into a good book,
And end up shelving it.

When did it go wrong? Did it happen
In stages, catch me unawares?
I long for those days of yore
When I waited patiently
For the book-filled truck
Bringing volumes by the score,
Every Wednesday.
When I would load my arms
With as many as I could,
Carting them home to pore through,
And take each word to heart.

Is it this device
I have afore me now?
These easy keys allow
The sharing of all my secrets,
Trying not to bore
With what might make
You turn elsewhere?

Is it brain-circuits, not
Firing as before, unable to absorb
Anything of length or strength
Or train-of-thought?

I ought to shut this down,
Pick up a tome that rests in dust
Upon the weighty shelf,
Or else, I’ll lose myself.

Or else,
I’ll lose
Myself.

Kathleen Mortensen ©2016

Swing-set

It was your day.
We went for a stroll
to while the time away—
just like you, to keep it simple.

The sun was glaring at us
and we’d left our shades at home,
still, we roamed along
the new cement that lines the road—
listening to a jay’s shrill cries,
as if to say, happy birthday.

I was keen to fool around,
running across the road to the
green playground,
where old-time swings
hang waiting to sway.
The seat was soaked,
from the night’s rain.
I wiped my sleeve back and forth
in the pool of water;
you whipped out a tissue
to mop up the rest.

It’s your day, you first! I laughed.
You were quick to settle in
to the rubber sling, your feet
rising from the sand.

I pushed the small of your back
with splayed hands,
and felt like a kid again,
waiting for a turn
to be the one having all the fun.

Up you rose, higher and higher,
flying back into your childhood memories,
where I don’t belong.

Those strong chains,
held on and I let you go,
pumping those legs like a little boy
with grass-stained knees,
rising up to the trees and sky beyond.

“Don’t jump off”, I warned.
You dragged your toes,
until the swing came to a halt,
and stepped away,
a fifty-four year old married man again.

Then, I grabbed the iron chains,
lifting my seat
into the black, rubber swing.
You stood and gave a good shove;
I drifted high into a dream of
hazy days when

it was my daddy
behind me.

Slowing down, I looked over
at the plastic slide
on the other side of the park,
recalling the singe of metal
on the backs of thighs
and felt the sting
of time.

Kathleen Mortensen ©2016