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


The Death of Me

Something is killing
My love of the printed page.
I try hard to delve
Into a good book,
And end up shelving it.

When did it go wrong? Did it happen
In stages, catch me unawares?
I long for those days of yore
When I waited patiently
For the book-filled truck
Bringing volumes by the score,
Every Wednesday.
When I would load my arms
With as many as I could,
Carting them home to pore through,
And take each word to heart.

Is it this device
I have afore me now?
These easy keys allow
The sharing of all my secrets,
Trying not to bore
With what might make
You turn elsewhere?

Is it brain-circuits, not
Firing as before, unable to absorb
Anything of length or strength
Or train-of-thought?

I ought to shut this down,
Pick up a tome that rests in dust
Upon the weighty shelf,
Or else, I’ll lose myself.

Or else,
I’ll lose

Kathleen Mortensen ©2016

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


Inevitability is our companion; we co-exist
with aging parents; ancient pets—we resist
the fear that looms.

There comes an end to anticipation;
Death’s spectre no longer hovers,
but alights.
We mourn, as we draw closer
to our own finish line.

We layer our remembrances
of all we have lost—
a father, a friend—an animal we loved;
continue on as incarnations of those
who have come and gone before us.

Our store of memories is an engine
that moves us forward to the points of our own destinies;
without it, we would cease to be.

The dead remind us that our own lives have an ending,

Kat Mortensen copyright 2011

Lost: A Poem of Grief The Mag #128

Deep in that pit
Where we dare not go,
Is buried the knowledge
That all must come to it.

We cannot fathom
The reality of this darkness,
Choose to spelunk, elsewhere—
A brighter place, for a time …

‘Til the cave walls crumble;
We tumble to
The unavoidable truth:

They are lost to us.

In dreams,
We plumb the depths
Of every abyss,
Until our own unmissable

Kat Mortensen©2012 Protected by Copyscape DMCA Takedown Notice Checker

image: Zelko Nedic

On Friday, we had to put our beloved cat, Daisy to sleep.  We had such a strong bond with her and she had been afflicted with health issues for some time, so we knew that one day we would be faced with a decision. The end came very quickly and we are now in the process of grieving.  This is one of my ways of coping.

Please visit The Mag website for interpretations of the above image that may be more accurate.



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Gilbert Grieves

Left Behind


Do I imagine that

                 the line of your spine



                                     the weight

                      that hangs upon your black


can it be tears that well in those

                              eyes of gold-green?

does your tail fail to flick—

                                                          your pace, not race—

                      show no trace of glee

                                  because you can’t find your queen?

when you nudge the edges

                where once she smiled

                              and left her scent

                                               do you subsume the memory

                of she who was—your

                            ever-present companion—

your yang or yin—

                           the din of her gurgling cry

                                      do you wonder why

it can’t be heard

               (or perhaps it can

                           from some distant plane—

some sphere),

she’s no longer here,

                                                 and yet

              the ghost of her


Kat Mortensen©2010 Protected by Copyscape DMCA Takedown Notice Checker

Tucked Away

In cleaning out my office, I keep coming across forgotten items and little treasures. That’s quite nice, actually, and I am making some headway. 

The other day, Kevin emptied one of my bookshelves in order to take it down to the living room to become part of a pair that will flank the fireplace.  In so doing, he displaced a bunch of my notebooks and things on the bottom shelf.  Tucked away in this group of items lying on the floor, was a slim, spiralled book that was published in 2007, by an organization called F.A.C.T. 

Families Against Crime and Trauma is a Canadian organization that offers support to families who have lost loved ones through tragic circumstances, be they accidental or criminal.  They also petition our government in an effort to achieve justice in some cases. Through a personal connection I had in western Canada, I was given the opportunity to write a poem to be used as their introductory piece in their book, “P.S. I Miss You”.

I wrote this piece literally in 10 minutes.  It spilled out in a kind of “In Flanders Fields” sort of  rhythm and I am quite proud of it, not just as a poem, but as a small source of comfort to those experiencing devastating loss.

The poem is untitled.


Within this book, a testament

Of many hours, in sorrow spent;

Recounting memories of old;

No longer able, those to hold,

Who left our sides, our homes, our lives,

So tragically, this world deprives,

Forever pulling us apart,

To shatter dreams; break each heart,


But soldier on, we must—we try,

Though turned away, in dark, we cry,

And let the tears track grief ‘til morn,

When waking, we, with strength adorn

Our presence for the world outside;

We smile, we hug, we speak, we bide,


So joined in quest to make a change,

It helps us all to rearrange

The cross we’ve carried, up ‘til now,

The numbing sense of loss, somehow

Will lessen even as we mourn;

As time moves on, our hope’s reborn,

Through working on a destined road,

We help each other to unload,

The sadness, weeping and the woe,

And bonded ever, forth we’ll go.


Kat Mortensen©2007 Protected by Copyscape DMCA Takedown Notice Checker