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.


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,
Percy and Claire,

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

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

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

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

The Ghosts of War

At Ease

The Ghosts of War
annually arise
in camaraderie
to make a toast
to lost limbs and senses
and battles never won.
They raise a glass
of whiskey or stout
as they lie about on grass
between the stones
that bear their names.

Ten hut!

They march in time
(for old times’ sake)
as medals clink
like bottles
at a bar.
A few may even crack a smile
or laugh, but all the while
the haunted looks they
keep well hid
cannot be far.


And when the party’s done,
they slap each other on the back,
blow a kiss to one,
and all who miss them,
then sleep again.

Kathleen Mortensen ©2016

Theme Thursday: “Ghost”



Ghost Stories


Who knew

when you were shooting

Super 8

that we’d be resurrecting

ghosts one day?

All those

special times

everyone shared–

dates of birth

and sacraments

at altars

to the blow

of a pompous horn,

watching years pan by

through snow

and rain, falling

as we marked

each holiday

and anniversary

toasting and roasting

and hamming it up–

the flickering film

catching the jarring sound

of our own cacophany

as we laughed

and yelled,

cussed and kissed

our way through

those ancient lives.


Who knew,

we would finish up

as data

on a versatile disc?


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

In Memoriam: Nicholas Hughes (1961-2009)

Were you haunted by those ghosts?
Not the ones who died, but the ones that lived
In the minds of those who thought they knew,
They had their fingers on the pulses
Of those who had let the blood run cold.
Was it all too much? To be part of that
Heritage of death and deliberation?

Or was it that the fish were doomed to die?
The futility was just too hard to fight
And you knew it was now or never.
Though you tried to find a place, remote
And reachless on this earth
Those albatrosses carried on
Pulling you under the tides of
Stream and sea.

Are we any different? Is it merely
Circumstance? Or would the twitch
Upon the threads of our existence
Unwind us into a thousand strands
Forcing us to choose the same?
Standing on that stone-cold
Precipice, would we have the strength
To turn and head for home,
Or would we dive headlong into
The depths?

Kathleen Mortensen©2009

Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape

Photo courtesy of Flickr