The Poetry Bus: This is Not a Love Poem

Chocolate Cherry Squares

 

You were the answer

to my fervent prayers—

at least you seemed to be—

standing over six feet tall

at the altar with your guitar.

That’s why I baked you

Chocolate Cherry Squares.

 

Such a clear-as-a-bell voice you had—

singing of praise and adoration;

I wanted to give you an ovation,

instead, I baked you

Chocolate Cherry Squares.

 

We went to dinner à la Grecque

with rice and lamb and baklava;

you were vague about your past,

but I had high hopes for us—

and baked you

Chocolate Cherry Squares.

 

Noel, we stood beside your tree;

you strung my pewter guitar-gift on a limb,

but what did you give me?

I don’t recall.

Still, I baked you

Chocolate Cherry Squares.

 

Mom thought that you’d been

jilted at the altar—

why else would our romance

have wilted before it got a start?

I gave my heart,

and baked you

Chocolate Cherry Squares.

 

I laid the foundation

of crumbs and nuts and butter

and the maraschinos bled into the icing.

I dripped the bittersweet on top

for Valentine’s Day.

 

You took one from the tin

and walked away.

It must have stuck in your craw,

or tasted too much of commitment,

since you dissolved us

on your tongue.

 

Kat Mortensen©2010 
Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape

Please visit the wonderful Totalfeckineejit’s Republic of Eejit blog to find links to other magnificent poetry.

Drive, He said.

I didn’t get my driver’s license until I was 21 years old. There are a couple of reasons why it took so long: my father insisted on being the one to teach me, and although he himself, was a good driver, he was not a good teacher – at least not with family members. I was also scared witless about highway driving (still am, if I’m honest).
Every year, from the time I turned 16, my New Year’s resolutions included “Get my license.” Every year, for 5 years, my resolution would get blown, either through my evasion of the dreaded lessons, or my failure to perform to my father’s satisfaction. You see, my dad thought he was an expert driver and no-one could possibly teach me as well as he could, so while all my friends went through Driver’s Ed, got their licenses at 16 and 17 and enjoyed that unparalleled sense of freedom you can only get from driving off your street and away from your parents, I was chauffeured around town by my father and occasionally, even my mom.
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It was quite humiliating to be taken to school in the morning and dropped off, when everyone else was pulling into the parking lot in either their own cars, or their mom’s, old bangers. I usually chose to walk or ride my bike to retain some sense of dignity. I think this may be why I started to dress to gain attention; my inadequacy as an independent traveler would be eclipsed by my cool hair and my outlandish dress sense.
The most memorable moment of my driving lesson history went like this: My father and I went out in the ‘75 Impala (see above), with me at the wheel. I was cruising along nicely through the familiar, suburban neighbourhood where we lived and I was feeling pretty good about things. It was at this point that my dad got it into his head that I should go on the highway. I was not keen, to say the least. My father, had the classic “Irish temper” complete with irrational expectations and a stubborn streak to like the proverbial mule. When he decided I was going to go on the highway, he directed me toward the service road that led to the on-ramp and I could feel my own temperature rising. You see, I have that Irish in me too. Where do you think the word, “ire” comes from anyway?
Something took over in my brain – a little donkey of my own, perhaps, and I slowed the car to a halt and pulled to the side of the road–to a dead stop.
My father was at first perplexed and wanted to know why I had stopped. When I tried to make my case for not going on the highway, he would brook no excuses. His face got red and if he had been a cartoon, you would surely have seen smoke coming out of his ears. (Yosemite Sam comes to mind.) I held my ground and would not budge. No yelling, or bullying was going to make me drive that behemoth of midnight-blue metal onto that on-ramp to the Queen Elizabeth Way.
Enraged, my father jumped out of the car and ran over to my side to the driver’s window. He was intending to berate me from a different angle in order to get me to change my mind. That was his fatal error.
I put the car in gear and tore off down the road leaving him standing on the verge. Just then, it started to rain—a few drops at first, but then it really came down, hard. I was well on my way now and I just kept driving. I was trying to think: What should I do? Where can I go? I knew that if my dad caught up to me, I would be flayed alive.
Suddenly, I had an idea: I drove deep into my neighbourhood and pulled into a long driveway. Parking the car, I ran up to the big wooden door and banged loudly. The old priest who answered recognized me right away and invited me in. I was in a panic! I thought, churches have to give sanctuary, right? They’ll protect me from my mad, drowned rat of a father, won’t they?
popedrive Kidding!
Well, it turned out, they had other ideas. The priest and his associate, talked quietly to me and tried to convince me to go home. I’m sure they were pretty terrified themselves, come to think of it. They knew my father and he had a reputation for being, shall we say, a tad unreasonable on occasion?
Basically, they turned me around and told me to go home. I got back in the Impala ( a car I had once appropriately nicknamed “The Getaway Car”) and headed back.
When I reached my house, I jumped out of the car and approached the front step. Hesitantly, I opened the front door and was immediately met by mother who was none-the-wiser. My dad wasn’t even home yet! This was bad! He was going to be even more angry when he got back. On the other hand, it gave me an opportunity to hide, but not for long, because suddenly, my mom said, “Here’s you father now. What’s going on? Why isn’t he with you anyway?”
I didn’t wait to hear anymore. I quickly dashed into the main bathroom on the upper floor of our bungalow and locked first the door into the hallway, and then the back door leading into my parents’ bedroom. I cowered inside the glass doors of the shower stall.
jackgiant Click for source.
My father entered the house like the Ogre in Jack and the Beanstalk after he finds out his golden egg is missing. He was yelling at my mom and then came charging down the hallway and started banging on the bathroom door.
I was terrified! Mom was on the outside going to bat for me, so I had a chance – and I seriously doubted my dad would go so far as to break down the door of the bathroom. I just had to stay safe until he cooled off.
Eventually, my dad did simmer down. His yells got weaker and I think my ace-in-the-hole was telling him (from behind the safety of my door) that I’d been to the church. Even MY dad would see sense if you brought the church into it.
I don’t remember how it was resolved. It’s all kind of a blur. I must have finally come out of hiding and after promising not to beat me within an inch of my life, I’m pretty sure my dad kept his word.
Maybe this is one of the reasons why I’m still a Catholic.
Here’s a clip from the movie “Happy Go Lucky” which brings back so many memories of my own “driving lessons”.

Kathleen Mortensen©2009 Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape

Wedding Daze

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It’s that time of year again. The time when all girls look radiant and lovely in their beautiful bridal gowns and all boys look a tad awkward in their tailored tuxes and their shiny shoes. There’s mum in her designer two-piece and dad with his ascot and tails. Then there are the attendants –the groomsmen and the bridesmaids. Ever been one of them? I have – more than a few times and there are some fond (and not so fond) memories of those occasions.
I first got to experience the role of bridesmaid when I was 15 and still in my gawky phase. I had horn-rims, braces and zits, which go so well with bright pink chiffon. Thank heavens for cover-stick!
My first cousin on my mom’s side was getting married to an Italian in Toronto. I’m still not sure why she chose me to be one of her bridesmaids. We weren’t particularly close – not in age or frame of mind. I was far closer to her younger sister, but I really think she must have been using me to make up numbers. Italian weddings are big affairs from the time the prospective groom gets down on one knee, until all the ensuing babies are baptised. It was necessary to have a big wedding party and I guess I was as good as anybody to fill the shoes.
Italian weddings start with an engagement party. This is often as big as the wedding (at least from the perspective of the far more humble Irish side of my family, it seems so). They rent a big space, there’s tons of food and music (really, it’s like a pre-wedding). Then there are multiple showers and dress-fittings and then there’s the rehearsal party (which again, is rather like a wedding). I had no complaint about any of this because Italian food is arguably the best in the world and from my perspective, you can never eat too much lasagne (or cake).
Beretta torlando
As a bridesmaid and a teenager the whole “wedding” thing was really not my concern. I just had to show up in my frothy pink halter dress with the matching floaty cape, master walking in a slightly higher shoe and enjoy myself when someone else was paying. It was a cinch. The other bonus of course was the presence of “groomsmen”. The groom himself was a cross between Tony Orlando and Robert Blake’s Baretta, so he wasn’t my type, but his younger cousins were quite attractive. One of them (another Tony) had a bit of a Redford look to him, so I was instantly smitten, since I had recently seen “The Way We Were”.
redford
Unfortunately for me, it was not Tony who exhibited any interest, but his cousin, Frank. Frank was a nice enough guy, but there was no chemistry. We danced and chatted and in retrospect, he was the better catch (I’ve seen Tony recently and time hasn’t been kind. Frank, on the other hand, has maintained his statuesque physique and he still has most of his hair.) Who can foresee these things when you’re 15? I recall that it was a fun time; I danced the “Gay Gordon” with my dad and discoed the night away with a pair of cute Italian boys. It was a wedding to remember, from my point of view.
A few years later, when I was 18, the hair was longer and lightened (courtesy of a little bottle of L’Oreal), I had contact lenses and the skin was cleared up somewhat (I spent long, dull minutes lying under a sun-lamp in my bedroom, white goggles on my eyes, listening to the tick,tick,tick of the timer until … ding! Off it would go and I would be cooked. Can you believe it!)
This time, it was the younger cousin who was getting married, and guess what? It was another Italian wedding! We went through the whole thing again. The difference was, I was in a long peach, synthetic jersey gown with a cross-over v-neckline and slit sleeves. I had high, strippy, taupe sandals and I looked pretty darned good. The dress material was exactly like one I had attempted in home economics. I say attempted because I was never much of a seamstress and always seemed to select the most involved patterns purely because I liked the look of them on the Simplicity or McCall’s package.
This particular dress was all one piece with these huge, long ties. You were supposed to be able to wear it 7 different ways: toga-style, halter-style, tied around the neck, tied around the waist, etc. I chose a mint-green stretchy fabric (which was murder to sew because it slid all over the place and made the seams meander everywhere but in a straight line). I ended up with an enormous ice-cream coloured swath of hideous material that could have doubled as my bedroom drapes.
The bridesmaid dress was much nicer (although has anybody ever repurposed a bridesmaid dress apart from say, Martha Stewart)? It wasn’t the dress that was the problem for me, it was the shoes. I was used to North Stars and Earth shoes, not 3–inch sandals.
earthshoes
It was a Catholic wedding, so there was a big church ceremony. Because I was a reader in my own home church in Mississauga, my cousin asked if I would like to do one of the readings at the wedding mass. I said I’d be happy to, but as with all the occasions when I read, I was filled with anxiety over the prospect and lost a lot of sleep as a result.
When the wedding day came and I was sitting in the church pew in my long dress with my high shoes, the only thing on my mind was getting up to the lectern where they kept the Good Book, without tripping, reading my passage without faltering and getting back to my seat intact. Well, two out of three ain’t bad, as they say.
saint
When the priest sat down and the congregation followed his lead, it was my cue to get up and do my thing. I glided gracefully to the step and went up: one, two. I found my place in the book, set aside the ribbon marker and (if I may say so) I read, flawlessly. It was the next step when it happened; I forgot about the step down! As if that wasn’t bad enough, to aright myself, I grabbed onto the marble plinth that was the lectern and I swung around to the side, holding on like Eva Marie Saint in North by Northwest! My feet weren’t touching the floor and I was swinging back and forth like an ape in a peach-coloured dress! The people in the seats at the back were all standing up to see what the commotion was up front because a murmur was running through the crowd. My co-bridesmaid, Stella was trying to maintain her composure, but it was not to be; she nearly burst!
When I finally stopped swinging enough to get a toe-hold on the carpet and let myself down (actually, a few people made to run up and assist me, but in church, there’s a sense of decorum that must be maintained and when I appeared able to do it myself, they hung back).
I should also say that the groom’s brother was stunningly good looking with a fine bod, gorgeous dark brown eyes, olive skin and luxurious black hair. I was mortified to have pulled this stunt in front of him and he honestly seemed embarrassed for me, but he never exhibited any interest after the fiasco. Oh well.
It’s hardly surprising that my own wedding was a small affair – only 20 people in the church. We had no reception and in fact, we nearly eloped. This was down to a couple of things. Firstly, when a friend from university got married, it was a huge affair. I got all decked out in a vintage, strapless, turquoise ball-gown, drop Indian-style, silver earrings and pointy white shoes. I went with someone I should have seen through ages before, but that’s for another time.
brideroom green
The thing that stood out for me most about the day was that when I finally did get two minutes alone with my friend, her words to me were anything but what I expected from a “blushing bride”. “This is the worst day of my life!”she cried out in her personal dressing room. I was stunned. She was gorgeous, her new husband was on his way to becoming a doctor, she had scads of friends in attendance for her big day and this was her verdict? Wow! All my teenage dreams of a Fall wedding with Irish lace and green-velvet gowned bridesmaids and a church full of yellow roses got sucked into a vortex, never to be seen or heard from again. I made up my mind then and there that my wedding (if and when there ever was one) would be small, intimate and not the least bit ostentatious.
old mill
A few years later, a male friend got married and did the whole thing in one go at one location – a charming chapel/mill near Toronto. It was lovely. Unfortunately, their marriage didn’t last, but the gist of that small ceremony stayed with me until in 1994, I walked up the aisle to meet my own man-of-my dreams. I wore a comfortable sheer, layered cream skirt with a cream lace top, low-heeled pumps and carried a bouquet of yellow roses. I wasn’t the reader, so that was a relief.
The reception was a small luncheon at my adopted sister’s apartment. The cake was a fantastic creation with cream, blueberries and shaved white chocolate. Then we jetted off to Ireland for 10 days of Guinness, fry-ups and World Cup soccer.
I married into a Danish-Canadian family, not an Italian one, but I still got a slice of la Dolce Vita.

Kathleen Mortensen©2009 Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape

My world and welcome to it!

Today I ventured out for a walk into town.  I had a very important parcel to mail and the weather was gorgeous, so I put on my running shoes, grabbed my purse and my camera and headed off.  I thought you all might enjoy a little trip through my neighbourhood and into town.

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It was so nice to finally see some colour breaking through the dry ground and dead grass in some of the neighbours’ yards.

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Here’s a look up my street from the bottom.  You can’t see my house because it’s around the bend to the right way at the top of the street.

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The favoured destination of many a Canadian – Tim Horton’s.  Here you can get what some think is the best coffee anywhere and their donuts, muffins and bagels are pretty good too.  There’s a “Timmies” just about every mile you go in the city!  My usual fare is either a steeped tea and a banana nut muffin, or a black coffee with a multigrain bagel – lightly toasted and spread with lite strawberry cream cheese (easy on the cheese).  Surprisingly, although this TH is just down the road, we mostly hit the other ones around town when we’re on the go.

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Around the corner a ways, you’ll find this combination of “services”. I find it a tad ironic.

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I couldn’t resist this shot, because the empty billboard reminded me of a jail-cell. Juxtaposed with the wedding attire, it was too good to miss!

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I’m so glad those days are over!  (I’d be a little uncomfortable with an orthodontist by this name, wouldn’t you?)

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If I ever decide to get a tattoo, you’ll be the first to know!  What would you have as a tattoo? I think I’d go for a Celtic Cross (tiny) or maybe “Kat” in a Gaelic font. What do you think?

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“Mummy, I lost my dummy!”

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Here’s where I mailed my package.  They tried to upsell me to a pack of stamps or some Olympic coins, but I wasn’t buyin’ them.

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Here’s one for “Sparky” and any other of you bike fans.

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A few of my neighbours lost their heads.

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Who do we have here in the window?

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Donkey day is coming June 14th. Hooray!  I love donkeys!

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Duke Street – funky shops and a vegetarian cafe. My mom lives in behind at “The Regency” – swanky name, huh?

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This street is packed with churches.   I’m just around the corner from “The Regency” now.

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Here’s the local courthouse across from Mom’s building.  See that car on the right? If you kept going in the same direction for about 3 minutes, you’d be back at my street again.

Thanks for tagging along!

Kat

I Ever Sang For My Father

katstp  tobeirish

                                                                                                      A vintage 1950s card from my father to my mom.

My father loved to sing.  He had a mellow tenor voice that was always being used to sing his favourite tunes – popular music, classics, and particularly good Irish songs.  He taught me to love singing, to share my voice unreservedly and to enjoy a good Irish ditty.  He also taught me to venerate my God with my voice – singing out in church, both in a choir and from my spot in the pew.  If I wasn’t singing out, he’d nudge me with his elbow and give me the all-too familiar questioning look.  I immediately bucked up and let loose with the vocal chords.

When I tried out for the school musical, “The Music Man”, I followed his example, and took a shot of whiskey to oil my pipes.  I have done the same today, in his honour, but also to get the great green frog out of my throat. I think it worked, but not as well as I should have liked.

Here are a few of my father’s favourite Irish songs, for HIS and your listening enjoyment.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day one and all!

Kathleen (for today)

(This podcast has given me some grief, so as well as the Irish songs I intended, my old podcasts with a load of my poems, being read by me, are also included. If you feel like listening to those, have a look!)
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(Click on “Posts” to select song or poem.)

Slipping away…

Photo borrowed from Flickr

Fade

I enter the room
Where you lie on the bed,
Pillow props your head—
So many words unsaid.
I look in those
Still-sparkling eyes and see
Shades of the father
Who oft carried me.
Are you inside
This man gone so gray
Who gave me away
On the hottest of days
Post-chase of O.J.?
Who danced jaunty jig
Each St. Paddy’s feast
And loved every beast–
The kindest man
Who brought strays
Home from church,
Or birds felled
From their perch–
Can’t see you, though I search
For the fearless man who led
Our voices and who read
From pulpit many times–
Forgave me all my crimes.
You taught me how to drive
Though I fought you tooth and nail,
Left you standing in the hail
As I tore off down the road–
You didn’t much explode;
The one who drove my teddy bear
Cross-country with such care
Just to hand him back to me,
My delighted face to see,
The man who never
“Cheaped out” on a gift,
Who gave me fireman’s lift
To bed each night
And tucked me in,
Protected me from sin and
Guided me as much
As you could with word and touch,
The man who held my hand
When I fell and hurt my head–
Needed stitches, then you led
Me to fairground, for a whirl,
To distract your little girl;
The numbers man—wordsmith as well,
Writing letters, truths to tell,
British-soldier way back when–
Memoirs never put to pen,
Only photos to attest,
Save the stories in our breasts,
But your duty you upheld,
Passing on the faith that dwelled
In your head and in your heart,
My salvation to impart
And you lifted me up high,
In my spirit…’til I die…

Now, your smile for me, is brief;
Still its pow’r restrains my grief,
Though your eyes close as I stand
By your bed–you take my hand,
In your twisted, vice-like grip,
As the saline-drip, drips drips.
From your grasp I slip
…away
From the room
Into
… the fade…

‘Til I come another day.

Kathleen Mortensen©2008