Now and Then

Now and then, I remember
when we were young.
We made love in a cold room
with plastic sheeting on the window.
We rocked and rolled
beneath the patterned quilt—
(our un-guilty Christmas gift
to each other),
and kept our socks on.

We didn’t care about the blare
of Seger’s “Still the Same”
coming from the flat upstairs,
and “Jagged Little Pill”
across the hall.
We only knew our own
small world under the covers.

We worked temp
to pay the bills,
shopped “no frills”
for yellow-labeled cans
and made plans for the future …

milestones have transpired,
but we can smile
at how happy we were
and how we still have some fire—
we’re still the same lovers …
now and then.

Kathleen Mortensen©2017

Advertisements

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

 

Santa Claws

(Tips on how to be a modern-day, store-Santa)

I’ve been a jolly Santa
For thirty years or more.
When dealing with the toddlers
I think I know the score.

So when the bosses told me,
I’d have to work with pets,
I thought I’d have no problems—
No struggle, no regrets,

But nothing could prepare me
For what I dealt with then—
Parade of beastly “babies”
Rats, ferrets—Dobermen;

With scratches on my collar
And urine on my coat,
I’ve tried to keep on smiling,
But it really gets my goat!

Some tips they’ve tried to give me:
Hot bottle for the cat,
A squeak-toy for the puppies
And hang on to your hat!

Look out for lips, back-curling,
Or hair that stands on end.
Not every little “darling”
Is really “man’s best friend”,

Do, gently hold the rabbits;
Don’t drop them on their back,
Else they’ll no more be hopping,
And owners will attack.

They’ll try to keep it from you,
But when it’s done, you’ll stink!
So, don’t tell anybody—
Just pour yourself a drink!

Kathleen Mortensen © 2007

Maelstrom (A Holiday Poem)

Sailing along
on a sea of people
all of them lugging
their loads.
Booted feet dragging—
the laggards
tagging along
behind
in snowslacks,
little legs
swish-swish
as they pass.

We are
the Christmas
holiday undead,
dazed eyes
glazed over
(is it nearly
over?)
Checking our lists
fishing in packs
for scraps
of paper
with names
and little ticks
beside them.

Some of us
singing along
to the tunes of carols
all of them worming,
familiar in our ears.
Some are
insidious, inane
and migraine-
inducing,
yet we hum:
baby, it’s cold outside
and santa baby.
Somewhere
in the cerebrum,
they strike
a chord.

In the middle
of the mall
there’s a swirling
mass of shoppers
going round
and round
caught up
in the maelstrom,
getting ground
up in the
yearly,
compulsive
convention
of Christmas.

I stand in the
centre of the
whirlpool
and wait
to be
pulled
un
der.

Kat Mortensen©2009

The Animal-lover’s 12 Days of Christmas

On the first day of Christmas,
my true love gave to me
a crow high in a pine tree.

On the second day of Christmas,
my true love gave to me
TWO mourning doves,
and a crow high in a pine tree.

On the third day of Christmas,
my true love gave to me
THREE striped skunks,
TWO mourning doves,
and a crow high in a pine tree.

On the fourth day of Christmas,
my true love gave to me
FOUR running mice,
THREE striped skunks,
TWO mourning doves,
and a crow high in a pine tree.

On the fifth day of Christmas,
my true love gave to me
FIVE bold rats,
FOUR running mice,
THREE striped skunks,
TWO mourning doves,
and a crow high in a pine tree.

On the sixth day of Christmas,
my true love gave to me
SIX bees a-buzzing,
FIVE bold rats,
FOUR running mice,
THREE striped skunks
TWO mourning doves,
and a crow high in a pine tree.

On the seventh day of Christmas,
my true love gave to me
SEVEN squirrels a-squabbling,
SIX bees a-buzzing,
FIVE bold rats,
FOUR running mice,
THREE striped skunks,
TWO mourning doves,
and a crow high in a pine tree.

On the eighth day of Christmas,
my true love gave to me
EIGHT jays a-japing,
SEVEN squirrels a-squabbling,
SIX bees a-buzzing,
FIVE bold rats,
FOUR running mice,
THREE striped skunks,
TWO mourning doves,
and a crow high in a pine tree.

On the ninth day of Christmas,
my true love gave to me
NINE finches flitting,
EIGHT jays a-japing,
SEVEN squirrels a-squabbling,
SIX bees a-buzzing,
FIVE bold rats,
FOUR running mice,
THREE striped skunks,
TWO mourning doves,
and a crow high in a pine tree.

On the tenth day of Christmas,
my true love gave to me
TEN hares a-hopping,
NINE finches flitting
EIGHT jays a-japing,
SEVEN squirrels a-squabbling,
SIX bees a-buzzing,
FIVE bold rats,
FOUR running mice,
THREE striped skunks,
TWO mourning doves,
and a crow high in a pine tree.

On the eleventh day of Christmas,
my true love gave to me
ELEVEN chippies, chipping,
TEN hares a-hopping,
NINE finches flitting
EIGHT jays a-japing,
SEVEN squirrels a-squabbling,
SIX bees a-buzzing,
FIVE bold rats,
FOUR running mice,
THREE striped skunks,
TWO mourning doves,
and a crow high in a pine tree.

On the twelfth day of Christmas,
my true love gave to me
TWELVE hummers humming,
ELEVEN chippies, chipping
TEN hares a-hopping,
NINE finches flitting
EIGHT jays a-japing,
SEVEN squirrels a-squabbling,
SIX bees a-buzzing,
FIVE bold rats,
FOUR running mice,
THREE striped skunks,
TWO mourning doves,
and a crow high in a pine tree.

(And on Christmas Day,
I set them all free!)

Kat Mortensen©2010

Christmas Piece

Keeping Christmas

We did it right,
last year.
The music played – endlessly,
and we sang carols
with smiles from ear to ear.

What happened?
To make this year
so different?

We’ve lost a part of ourselves
along the way.
We sit and wait for another part
to chip away.

Our memories can hold us,
but only just.

I don’t want to light the tree,
or wrap too many packages
with pretty paper.

The only thing that can lift
my spirit and save the day

will be our faith.

Kat Mortensen©2013

The pain of youth and loss.

In October, 1984, I lost my father for the first time.  He was struck by a hit-and-run driver while riding a ten-speed bike on a country road about 6 miles from our house.  He incurred a blow to the brain that put him in a coma for a few weeks, and though incredibly, he survived and went on to live another 23 years, he was never the same man that I knew again.  He developed Parkinson’s which we attribute greatly to both the brain injury, and the resultant epileptic seizures that followed in the early years after his accident.

I came across this photo in my files.  It is of my mom and me the Christmas after the accident.  Those painted faces and the eyes really say it all.

My journey was of course, different from my mother’s, but we both had to be strong, and we coped in our own ways. Not always the best ways.

Grief

Grief can drive you
into the arms
of someone who
on any other day
(before the sadness)
you would never look twice.

When your life
gets turned and twisted—
and you are too caught up
in your wonderful world to think
a change could come—
or it’s too good to last,

then suddenly, your normal world
is past … for ever.

You’ll paint your face on, and
turn to that stranger,
knowing it’s a stupid move—
that you’ll kick yourself when you
come out of the haze.

Knowing too, you’ll repeat the
tragedy, again and again,
until, amazingly,
you’re all grown up.

Kathleen Mortensen©2013