Non-Fiction (a catharsis)

Would like to be so clever—
put it all on the page in some obscure manner
that would make you go,
“Oh, isn’t this deep, and beautiful
and worthy of acclaim?”

The bottom line is this is not going to be
a very good poem. 

I may not ever be ready
to share what’s really in my head,
how it replays those words,
“just before I slit his throat”
over and over.

Don’t want to say I’m haunted
by the true crime,
but it’s sitting there
under the surface,
every time I turn from the window
and the natural world.

I catch myself thinking:

Don’t forget to lock the door.
Don’t stop to play the Samaritan.
Don’t ever drop your guard.

Maybe I’m too paranoid
to be reading Capote in the first place,
but occasionally,
there’s that darkness deep inside
that must be satisfied.

All of us have the capacity—
all of us can dig a little and find
where evil lies.

Some of us will never cross the line.
(What decides who is on which side?)

But the reality is,
Evil comes out of hiding
to strike like a gator on a bayou

They are out there-empty and black inside
waiting to make their move.

We all know this, yet it’s so
easy to put the facts out of mind – to forget.

Don’t ever forget.

In the beginning I disclaimed
about being clever.

Good thing I did.

Kathleen Mortensen © 2017



We never met,
But there were stories
He was a bastard
In more ways than one.
He put at least
A dozen buns in Granny’s oven
And drank himself into
A fairly early grave
With money
She tried in vain
To save.
He was deeper
Than he appeared,
At least, my dad said so,
But he could lash out,
And he passed on
That trait, I’ll tell you.
He may have been
A philanderer.
If he’d never
Fathered my father,
I’d not be here
To slander him.

Kathleen Mortensen @2016

Was Home

I can’t believe, I used to call it, “home”.

The place to which I ran,
when a young man
whacked me with snowballs;
where I slammed doors in a rage
of teenage hormones,
or played the Moonlight Sonata
on the upright grand.

How many times,
I paced behind its windows,
waiting for another blind date,
to shake my father’s hand.

Those wretched kitchen cupboards!
That ratty carpet’s edge
that lined the stairs,
the patches—mismatched pieces
filling in
the worn out spots,
when I didn’t care.

Unfinished projects—everywhere:
missing tiles, aborted things,
splattered paint, where you were too
impatient to fling a cloth.

Solid dining suite, Limoges miniatures
behind glass (from a European tour)
using credit to keep up with the middle class …

Your disease made it so hard
to upkeep—
the grass like a corn-crop after harvest
(the birds loved it)
the pavement, cracked,
woodwork, hacked,
eaves, slack—

I grew to loathe the place I once called, “home”.

When we sold it (you had no clue)
I would have given it away, if I’d had to;
it was a yoke to be lifted.

As we turned up the road, for the last time,
I never turned my head,

and we drifted away
from home.

Kat Mortensen©2012

Sins Of The Fathers

We heard all the stories about them: the violence, the drink,
the philandering—

How the same sweet hand that stroked the dog so tenderly,
could turn and beat the tar out of her children.

Who are we to judge?

What do we know of roofs—leaking, buggy beds,
and pans of piss, emptied outside the back door?

We grew up in our window-boxed, cookie-cutter houses,
rugged and fitted out with the latest from American Standard.

She raised them, by hand, in a few dim rooms—
firing soda farls, boiling lbs. of spuds to keep the baker’s dozen fed.

Where was her man? Off making pot-to-piss-in money—
pissing it away in the pub, come payday.

Same old story. Knock on any door in the neighbourhood.

Sure, they tried to make a go of it, but making baby after baby happened instead.
Potential: dead, from the get-go.

Too many blockades.

Potential? What the hell is that? You’re born. You work. You die.

Family is all you’ve got. That, and the hope that one day,
your descendants will acquit you.

Kat Mortensen©2012

Magpie #51 – Follow the Red Brick Road


Many roads will cross your path as you wend your way through life—
Sitting in your car; standing at the lights.
Roads have histories you should mind.

Tons of stone have been hauled for cobbly roads,
Hewn from the rock, leaving crags in the face.
Some despot broke backs of men on cold roads
Then buried them beneath without a trace.

Horse-hooves on dirt-roads, settled land against all odds.
Men have marched down millions of roads in the name of liberty—
Taking a stand.

Highways and byways have run to and fro—
Getting us there or leaving our souls at the edge of the road,
Or down in a ditch,

Over a cliff,

Under a bridge.

There are peopled roads of unspeakable provenance—

These are the roads we must learn from the most,
Else all our roads lead nowhere.

Kat Mortensen©2011

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Visit Magpie Tales for details on this prompt and to find others who have participated.

Not much of a Sunday Poem, on Sunday.

This poem did not end up as serious in tone as I had hoped. The rhyme gives it a light-heartedness that is in direct opposition to the subject-matter.  Even the title seems inappropriate and yet, I am reluctant to lose it or to change the piece.  Perhaps this is my subconscious way of coping with what I’m reading in the superb account of the  war in Somalia in 1993, by Mark Bowden, “Black Hawk Down”.  I’m halfway through this book—not something I would ever have thought I would read, but it is absolutely compelling because of the expert writing and the way it gets inside the heads of all concerned, on every level and on both sides. 

I have also seen the film, “Black Hawk Down’, directed by Ridley Scott, of “Gladiator” fame.  I watched it myself one day (Kevin had long been recommending it) and I did like the film, despite the subject matter.  I intend to watch it again once I finish the book.

Bowden describes the events of “Black Hawk Down”— where a huge helicopter is brought down by an RPG (rocket-propelled grenade) to the streets of Mogadishu  and the after-effects as Rangers, Delta Force and other troops in Humvees and choppers and on foot attempt a rescue against hail of gunfire and grenades from mobs of Somali militants and civilians— as a “hornet’s nest” of fighting, killing and death.

I don’t even scratch the surface with this poem, but after a big cup of coffee I can only disclaim that this is what struck me (no pun intended).


Lauded Guns


When did we improve, upon daggers and spears

and begin firing balls of burnt metal?

Who can we thank for the clever device

that explodes on command, man or devil?


Whiz of ballistic, most often sadistic,

report of the calibered shot,

crossing roadways and alleys, or volleyed from galleys,

in clusters of grapes, molten-hot.


Once, with measured-out paces,two turned their faces,

then fired until one man would drop.

It was just the beginning of wars no one’s winning,

with ordinance no one can stop.


The entire world over, men running for cover

can thank the inventors who made

the first howitzer, rifle—one gun—meant to stifle

a person, or people, afraid.


Toast to Wesson and Smith and each of their kith

bringing killing and death to new heights.

Now with techn0-advances beyond cannons and lances

We ensure, take-no-prisoners fights!


Kat Mortensen©2010 
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OSI: “walls”

paper Click picture for source.

Stripping Down

I once took to the walls–
with the ghastly floral paper–
a penknife
and stripped away for hours,
layer by layer,
looking for the history
I scratched and scraped
until I had to use
my own nails…
until they bled.
Such was my determination–
like a badger
routing out a rat–
to find what lay
under it all;
to clean away the
tasteless choices and
what once was
fresh paint.

Some would think me mad
If they knew what I had done–
Now the secret’s out.

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

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