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




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

Time On My Hands IV

I wake and stretch;
fingers resist, insisting
on their preferred curl—
reluctantly along with
tired limbs.

There’s black dirt
trapped beneath short nails—
residue from mulch
hand-spread on parched ground.

We are both drying up,
the earth and I.

This organ, this skin
is burnished by the sun,

Its network of fine lines
weaves organic leather
preserving the underneath.

These hands,
God willing,
may serve—’til my death.

Kathleen Mortensen @2016


Please visit the below links to read the first three poems in this series.  Thank you.

Time On My Hands III

Time On My Hands II

Time On My Hands I


I bought for my mother,
A marmalade treat,
To have with her breakfast
On toast for to eat,
But next morning
She never got up from her bed;
From her pillow,
She did not raise up her tired head,
So she never again will taste
Thick-cut orange spread,
That she so used to love
On her golden-grilled bread,
But forever, the memory of her
Will not fade,
When I spread my toast with
Her orange marmalade.

Kathleen Mortensen @ 2016

Another spin on the Poetry Bus (Two Roads)

Please note: I’ve written two pieces for this prompt.  The second was an after-thought.

Faith and Death and Faith


I find Him when I hear the notes of Mozart,

And when a voice can thrill me to the bone;

I find Him in a taste that is exquisite,

Or outside in the yard, beneath a stone.


I find Him in the eye of my adored one,

Whose cheek so soft and tender touches mine;

I find Him in the petals and the branches,

And Sundays in the water and the wine.


I find Him in the grizzle-headed hunched ones,

Who fill up all the seats at Mass each week;

I find Him in the toddlers at Communion,

Who don’t know yet, the Kingdom that we seek.


I fail to see Him in the stone-faced statues,

Or wooden boxes draped with cloth of gold;

And ornate altars, edged with gilded touches,

Cannot arouse an ardour that’s gone cold.


I find Him in the hymns of Middle Ages,

and prayers and lines the Ancients wrote and said,

but since he took my father from my presence,

a part of Him, to me is all but dead.

Kat Mortensen©2010 
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On Dying


I’m a hypocrite.

I’ll tell you I’m anti-euthanasia,

but only for the rest of them—

not for me.

I’m patho-logical.

If I’m sick with some

untreatable illness,

do away with me—

let’s get the suffering over,

so we can all go home.

Don’t lie me in a bed,

to shrivel up,

in wailing agony;

cut me loose,

and walk away,

knowing I’m free from it all!

Then incinerate me

and take me to a place

where the birds sing sweet

and the creatures of God

gambol, as they do.


Mix me with the dirt

(take some home with you)

and dust off your hands.


Kat Mortensen©2010 
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For more participants in TFE’s Poetry Bus, please visit his site: Totalfeckineejit for the links. Thanks.

Theme Thursday: “mirror”

Cover The Mirrors (A Rondeau)

Cover the mirrors; she has died,
Despite the doctors having tried;
They bled her once and twice again;
But all for naught; she left us when,

Beyond the glass, where once she vied
To conquer death; she thought she spied
The shadows looming—we denied,
The whispering low, of knowing men.
                                         Cover the mirrors.                 

The clocks are stopped, their workings tied,
The doors are locked; the robin’s cried,
I’ve bowed my head and stilled my pen,
To bid adieu— to say, “Amen”,
To shape and soul, no more allied.
                                             Cover the mirrors.

Kat Mortensen©2010  Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape
Please visit Theme Thursday for other excellent posts.

This time, last year…

At this time last year, we were participating in a vigil and waiting for my father to leave our midst. This is a poem I wrote some short weeks before that. It captures somewhat the thoughts that were in my head at the time.



Round and black,
Low in your back,
Pack and re-pack;
You ride the track—
To your last stop.


In the ground,
Where you are bound,
We’ll make the mound,
Scarce with a sound—
After you drop.


In my head,
When you are dead,
Soft shall we tread,
Our feet of lead—
Your spouse and scop.


In my heart,
When you depart,
Tears can not thwart
The sorrow, smart—
Let sound my “YAWP”.

Kathleen Mortensen©2008