Drifting

Traceries of snow

have designed a landscape

upon my window:

The drifts below

make ideal ground

to hold the roots

of icy trees

that trickle down

from the tops of the panes.

Brightly coloured butterflies

pasted to the glass inside

to ward off birds

that might collide,

look out of place

behind the lacy intricacy

of H2O’s frozen veins.

It blows and wails outside;

the gusts of snow

do not subside,

the birds drop down

to no avail;

while I bide here

beside the fire’s glow.

 

Kathleen Mortensen © 2017

In Sotto Voce

If you’ve read my rune today on “My Life In Runes”, you’ll know I’m feeling a bit uninspired. So I’ve decided to share a few of my older pieces and record myself reading them for you. I’m borrowing my husband’s high quality microphone, so there should be much improvement on the last post. I hope you enjoy them.

Kathleen

At Villa Diodati 

At Villa Diodati
I wish I’d been there,

(a bug on the wall—
a cat on a chair),
with Mary
and George,
John,
Percy and Claire,

Telling tales by candle,
passing a smoke;
conjuring ghosts—
sharing
a joke.

That delerium-place
filled with shadows,
unveiled,
from the dark,
to each face—
where the whitest cheek paled.

Claret, and laudanum
perhaps, were poured out;
muses, abounding,
all having
their shout.

Fantasmagoria,
birthing anew-
thrill-making creatures—
a fabulous crew!

Would kill to have been,
aloft in the air—
a mere wing’ed witness
to those monsters spawned there,

or pussycat curled
at the top of a stair—
in their Genevan lair,

at Villa Diodati.

Kathleen Mortensen©2012

January Open Mic

Thanks to Crow at Words and Feathers (click link to join in!) for hosting this terrific platform for sharing our creativity. Here is my contribution. It is rather bleak, but when I look out at the miserable day outside here, it seems very appropriate. The quality is down to my HP laptop and  Windows 10. I apologize for this.

Ice Men

A soul-compass, something inside—
(sane, or insane?)
drove them down
to the bottom of the world.

They would glide in their hard-hulled boats—Astrolabe,
Discovery, Endurance
until the ice locked them in.

Damned, on guano-beaches;
the sun (that infernal sun!) bleached their skin—
their lashes. The ashes of dead fires
told sad tales of meagre feasts.
Black and white sea-beasts broke the ice,
eager for their next meal.
Was it all real?

They waited: sheltered,
from the blowing wind,
and snow,
and sun,
under the belly of a life-boat—
surrounded by bloated seals, blood and after-birth,
squawking skua-survivors—
cold Hell.

Only the ghosts can tell us why they had to go;
how that drag, on the compass-needle could draw
them south to their destinies
or doom.

I wonder, do modern ice men
hear their voices in the gloom,
when they lie down
at night?

Kathleen Mortensen©2012

Father Time Goes On

This year
Father Time keeps his distance.

He’s perched Buddha-style,
high atop a volcano,
somewhere far away.

He’s checking his heavy
pocket-watch regularly,
and listening to Big Ben
with his bionic ear.

He has the fear.

Somehow, he’s let it all
spin out of control:
no more, can he hold on
to the wheels
with mechanical implements-
the ones that keep us on
an even keel.
Other forces, are working now
and his grip is slipping.

Up on his precipice
as the world whirls,
he blinks at some midnight sun,
then turns his back …
and runs.

Kathleen Mortensen © 2016

If you like this poem, search my “Father Time” posts from past years at kat5361.wordpress.com

Not To Speak Ill

She lived in the house
on the other side of the young cedars
at the bottom of our yards.
I waited for them to grow and give me my privacy—
I calculated the time it would take
until she could no longer see me.

If I’m honest, I didn’t like her much;
she was a bit too high and mighty
for me.

Once, I spent an evening
in her company, and by the time
I got home, knew in my mind,
I’d never do it again.

Conversations always filled me with anxiety
and a longing to slip away.
(It may have been my own insecurity.)

I did watch out for her—
made sure her blinds came up
the same time every morning,
her lights went off at night,
but Christmas was busy;
we thought she was away, not hurt
and bleeding
on the stone floor.

She died suddenly; it might have been a fall.
(We don’t know the details.)
She wasn’t hateful, or cruel, or any of those things,
but she made me feel small.

She was an old woman on her own
and now I feel guilty for every thing I thought—
all the times I avoided her, not really giving her a shot.

Looking out across the trees covered in snow
I know, she’s never coming out that back door again.

I’m sorry, Diane.

Kathleen Mortensen © 2016

 

Juncos

Little do they know
These eskimo-birds that pepper the snow
Outside my sliding door,
I wait for them to come every year.

The hardy tiny ones that dig at the snow
With their delicate feet,
Have nothing to fear from me.

Each morning before they appear on my deck
I throw seed on the snow that has fallen
While we all slept.

I’ve built them a place to buffet the blow
Of those winds that rise up from the deeps of the snow
To ruffle their tail feathers.

I keep them sheltered and fed,
Hoping that each day they’ll come back
And get me through the long days of snow ahead.

Kathleen Mortensen © 2016

Not Enough …

Not enough sun
to thaw the ice
sticking to deck-timber.

Not enough sun
to melt the icing-sugar
dusting the clover.

Not enough sun
to warm the birds’ backs
enticing them to linger.

Not enough sun
to keep the iced stone bath
bearing only water.

Not enough sun
to heat my icy heart
this cold November.

Kathleen Mortensen©2016