Now and Then

Now and then, I remember
when we were young.
We made love in a cold room
with plastic sheeting on the window.
We rocked and rolled
beneath the patterned quilt—
(our un-guilty Christmas gift
to each other),
and kept our socks on.

We didn’t care about the blare
of Seger’s “Still the Same”
coming from the flat upstairs,
and “Jagged Little Pill”
across the hall.
We only knew our own
small world under the covers.

We worked temp
to pay the bills,
shopped “no frills”
for yellow-labeled cans
and made plans for the future …

milestones have transpired,
but we can smile
at how happy we were
and how we still have some fire—
we’re still the same lovers …
now and then.

Kathleen Mortensen©2017



It was your day.
We went for a stroll
to while the time away—
just like you, to keep it simple.

The sun was glaring at us
and we’d left our shades at home,
still, we roamed along
the new cement that lines the road—
listening to a jay’s shrill cries,
as if to say, happy birthday.

I was keen to fool around,
running across the road to the
green playground,
where old-time swings
hang waiting to sway.
The seat was soaked,
from the night’s rain.
I wiped my sleeve back and forth
in the pool of water;
you whipped out a tissue
to mop up the rest.

It’s your day, you first! I laughed.
You were quick to settle in
to the rubber sling, your feet
rising from the sand.

I pushed the small of your back
with splayed hands,
and felt like a kid again,
waiting for a turn
to be the one having all the fun.

Up you rose, higher and higher,
flying back into your childhood memories,
where I don’t belong.

Those strong chains,
held on and I let you go,
pumping those legs like a little boy
with grass-stained knees,
rising up to the trees and sky beyond.

“Don’t jump off”, I warned.
You dragged your toes,
until the swing came to a halt,
and stepped away,
a fifty-four year old married man again.

Then, I grabbed the iron chains,
lifting my seat
into the black, rubber swing.
You stood and gave a good shove;
I drifted high into a dream of
hazy days when

it was my daddy
behind me.

Slowing down, I looked over
at the plastic slide
on the other side of the park,
recalling the singe of metal
on the backs of thighs
and felt the sting
of time.

Kathleen Mortensen ©2016


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

First Father’s Day without you.

My Inheritance

Now that you’re gone
I’m not who I was–
Can never be again.
My history henceforth
To be ever-tinged
With sadness
And visions of you
With your great big smile,
And twinkling eyes–
I yet hear, your laugh–
That came in chokes
And wheezes,
As if …
It could not
Be contained–
Especially in church.
How can I forget
That tale of broken-wind
In a pew
That sent you
And your brothers
Into snorting-fits–
Corked up,
Only to erupt again
After the calm?
True, there were rages too
Of course,
But who
Can hold your temper
Against you, being Irish
After all?
I’m the very same:
Your “father’s daughter”
That’s what they always say–
Always will–
In looks
And character.
You’ve given me
So many gifts
You do know, don’t you?
My vocabulary and voice,
My forthrightness
And my faith
All come from you.
Keep watching me,
Teaching me those lessons,
Calling my name,
“Get up, Kathleen!”
“God love ya, Darling!”
I know you’re there–
my Father, my Friend…
Take care,
And wait for me.

Kathleen Mortensen© November 2008 Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape

Theme Thursday: Wind


Click picture for source.




I nearly went down

with that sucker-punch

you landed

just before you left

me, blinking and bereft

and blown away.

“We’re never going

to see each other

again,” you said.

Did you really think

I’d lose my head

and cry out loud

in pain?


I tossed and was lost

on the gusts

of anguish

for a while,

yon and thither

in the breeze,

found replacements,

yes—with ease,

but the ghost of you

was on the faces

of denial.


‘Til at last

I exorcised

my memories,

all too prized–

took the tangibles

and left them

at your door,

with the letter

that you wrote,

trying to stir up

that you smote–

rolled and stuffed

into a bottleneck

of yore.


I turned my back

and took the stairs

from your heart,

your life…your lairs

when a wind blew up

to carry me aloft.

Then my feet

left low, the ground—

in my mind

our time unwound

and your piece of me

I captured

on a waft.


Kathleen Mortensen©2009

Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape

To Russia With Love (and other dreams)


I saw this over at A Little Birdie Told Me So (Steviewren’s blog – click the link for the original list) the other day and she scooped it from somewhere else. She had 41 out of 100 which made me feel pretty good since I only have 49 and I thought that was low.

This is a list of things you may or may not have done (yet) in your life. I’m going to adjust this a bit (like the classic book list). Highlighted in green will be the things I’ve done. Highlighted in red will be things I have not done. Highlighted in orange will be ones I’d want to do and yellow (too light) so, purple will be ones I would NEVER do. ( will also add a few notes of explanation and some links to relevant posts.

1. Started my own blog (s)

(See also: Poetikat’s Blasts From the Past, Poetikat’s Previous Poetry Repository, Post to Post)

I’m pretty sure there will be more along the way.

2. Slept under the stars (Slept in a pup-tent with my best friend, but chickened out and went back inside to my own bed, leaving her alone outside to brave the creatures of the night!)

3. Played in a band – Well, almost. I learned how to play the bass guitar because my boyfriend wanted me to. See this post for more on him: The Music Men I never did get up on stage, but we did jam for a bit with friends.

4. Visited Hawaii

5. Watched a meteor shower – I know they’re pretty rare and I always seem to miss them. Let me know if you hear of one coming, will you?

6. Given more than I can afford to charity

7. Been to Disneyland/world

8. Climbed a mountain (Okay, so it wasn’t really a MOUNTAIN. It was a very big hill in Scotland, but it sure felt like a mountain!)

9. Held a praying mantis

10. Sung a solo ( I sang many solos along the way in grade school. The one I remember best was “My Grandfather’s Clock” in front of a classroom of parents, classmates and teachers.)

11. Bungee jumped

(See this post: I’ll Never Say That! )

12. Visited Paris – I HAVE been to France, but not to Paris. Our family did a whirlwind tour of Europe and the UK when I was 16, but Paris was not on the itinerary for some reason. I hope to rectify that one day.

13. Watched a lightning storm at sea

14. Taught myself an art from scratch (I taught myself to crochet and knit when I was in middle school. I have taught myself to cook many things in my early and continuing adult life. I consider this an art.)

15. Adopted a child (We have not adopted, but we do foster a child in Columbia).

16. Had food poisoning

17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty

18. Grown my own vegetables (long story about cherry tomatoes and some squirrels – a poem may develop in the future)!

19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France – For those of you – like me – who have never seen this famed work of art, you may be surprised to learn that it is not your typical large portrait; it’s actually very small. Still, it’s probably the most famous painting ever created, wouldn’t you agree? I suppose that makes it worthwhile to see.

20. Slept on an overnight train (I was only a little girl when my mother and I took the train from Toronto to Halifax, Nova Scotia to visit her relatives in Cape Breton. I loved sleeping in the berth and long to do it once more. I must satisfy myself with fantasy-trips instead. Check out the “Orient Express” poster in the top left of my blog to join Museswings on the adventure of a lifetime!)

21. Had a pillow fight

22. Hitchhiked (Between all the urban legends out there, and the true crimes that have been committed by psycho drivers, I think I’ll give it a miss, BUT if you want to see one fantastic movie that is based on a hitch-hiking trip to the wilds of Alaska, watch Into The Wild.

23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill

24. Built a snow fort

25. Held a lamb (One day I will surely do this!)

26. Gone skinny dipping (My friend (the one I left in the tent) and I used to have nude-bathing sessions by moonlight in the above-ground pool in my backyard. Even then, we felt there was something clandestine about it all. Since then, only once have I done this – with my husband at his parents’ cottage on the Tuesday after Labour Day when everyone had gone back home and the lake was barren.

27. Run a marathon

28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice (My husband has done all the Italian tourist things I would still love to do. He traveled with a girlfriend through France and Italy. He now says he wishes it had been with me. Me too!)

29. Seen a total eclipse

30. Watched a sunrise or sunset

31. Hit a home run

(See this post: Days of Hell )

32. Been on a cruise ( after a 6 hour journey from Bar Harbor, Maine to Yarmouth, Nova Scotia (1975), in which I spent the better part of it hanging off the benches on the deck trying not to puke, I am not inclined to test my “sea-legs” further.)

33. Seen Niagara Falls in person ( I have the good fortune of living quite close to Niagara Falls. It’s just an 1 1/2 hour drive away. In fact, next weekend, we just so happen to be going for a 2-night stay in a hotel with luxury dinners and hot-tub/sauna and swimming pool. OMG! My white body is going to look so bad in that swimsuit I bought this summer and never put on!)

34. Visited the birthplace of my ancestors

35. Seen an Amish community (Again – I’m stretching things a bit here. Our city borders on a region populated by Mennonites. It is not uncommon in some of the smaller towns and on the lesser-highways to come across horse-drawn carts with Mennonite folk going about their business. It is delightful to see them in their traditional costumes – the men in suspenders and hats and the women with braided, coiled hairdos and long, peasant-style dresses.

36. Taught myself a new language

37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied

38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person (see #28)

39. Gone rock climbing. (Weeell, sort of. I have been indoor rock-climbing. It was a few winters ago when my niece was staying with us for the March Break. It was my idea to go and it was a blast. I was scared though, but I did climb pretty high.

40. Seen Michelangelo’s David (see#28)

41. Sung karaoke. (Not in a bar, you understand, BUT I have belted out songs at family Christmas and anniversary parties – you should hear my “Big Spender”!)

42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt

43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant

44. Visited Africa (I prefer to armchair tour Africa – for an amazing travel doc – see Ewan McGregor and Charlie Boorman in The Long Way Down for the most incredible trip throughout the length of Africa. You’ve never seen anything like this!)

45. Walked on a beach by moonlight

46. Been transported in an ambulance

( See this post: Traveler’s Checks )

47. Had my portrait painted

(See this post about another portrait: Dungeon-dweller)

48. Gone deep sea fishing

49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person (see #28)

50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris (Peut-être, un jour.)

51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling (If you include strapping on a mask and a tube and flippers and swimming in the Bras d’Or lakes, then yes, I have!)

52. Kissed in the rain (happens all the time!)

53. Played in the mud (As a child, I must have. As an adult, it’s hard not to when you’re a gardener.)

54. Gone to a drive-in theater (My sister, Nancy and I took our ‘77 Impala to the drive-in one night and we brought one of our cats! He didn’t seem to mind – we also had a sleeping bag and the car is so huge, it’s like travelling with 2 chesterfields on wheels.)

55. Been in a movie

56. Visited the Great Wall of China

57. Started a business (Some of you may already know that I have a personalized poetry business called Kathleen Mortensen Ink. To others of you, it may be a surprise. There doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of call for this type of poetry, but if anyone needs a poem for ANY occasion – birthdays, anniversaries, new homes, pets etc. – I’m your poet!

If you’d like to see samples of my work, drop me an e-mail and I’ll be happy to show you.)

58. Taken a martial arts class

59. Visited Russia (This is a dream that my husband and I share – a trip to Russia to visit the Hermitage, and all the wondrous sites in St. Petersburg and Leningrad).

60. Served at a soup kitchen (I need to extend myself further, do you? How about we make a commitment to at least once this year, get out and help in a place such as this. I know with our economies world-wide, there must be call for volunteers everywhere.)

61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies (I was a Brownie. I loved Brownies, but did not want to “Fly up” to what we, here in Canada called “Girl Guides”. I loved my “Brown Owl” leader too much!)

62. Gone whale watching (If I get back down to my mother’s ancestral home of Cape Breton sometime in the near future – and have the chance to visit my cousin in Newfoundland, I may get to do this. I think it would be amazing to see whales in the wild.)

63. Got flowers for no reason

64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma

65. Gone sky diving Not in a million years!

66. Visited a Nazi concentration camp

(See this post: Friday Flashback: Hitler’s Art)

67. Bounced a check (never on purpose!)

68. Flown in a helicopter

69. Saved a favorite childhood toy (more than one, but particularly “Teddy” who is 6 months younger than I am.)

70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial

71. Eaten caviar ( Not GREAT caviar; not even GOOD caviar, BUT caviar nonetheless. YUCK!)

72. Pieced a quilt (living in Mennonite country, there are many quilts to be had, but I have never learned how to do it myself. It’s one of those things I’m not ruling out of my experience.)

73. Stood in Times Square

74. Toured the Everglades

75. Been fired from a job (Demonstrating hot tubs and saunas at the Canadian National Exhibition – not as glamourous as it sounds – I wore a hideous blue t-shirt and polyester pants. It was the summer of 1978.)

76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London (1977 – Family trip to Europe – captured on 8mm film – brutal to watch. We saw every cathedral and war monument there was to see. Not the most exciting for a 16 year old girl, BUT I met my cousins in England and they were great!)

77. Broken a bone (I hope I never do!)

78. Been on a speeding motorcycle (Not speeding – my husband is quick to point out – responsible motoring. We have owned 2 motorcycles since we’ve been married. I don’t ride, but love to be on the back. We sold our last one unfortunately – and my husband says he is content with his new Mini Cooper. We’ll see.)

79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person

80. Published a book (This is something I am intent on doing this year. I hope to self-publish a collection of my poetry. I’ll keep you posted when I do!)

81. Visited the Vatican

82. Bought a brand new car (see #78)

83. Walked in Jerusalem (If it were not for the political climate in this region of the world, this is the one place I would probably be most inclined to see. I can’t imagine how incredible it must be to walk in the footsteps of Jesus.)

84. Had my picture in the newspaper

85. Read the entire Bible (It’s unlikely that I will ever get through the ENTIRE Bible, although I have read a goodly portion. I find Exodus is just a brute with all the measuring of the Ark. My favourite book of the Old Testament is Tobit and I love the Acts of the Apostles in the New.

86. Visited the White House

87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating (I would NEVER hunt and I don’t eat meat, other than chicken and fish, BUT in 1989, my uncle took me brook-trout fishing and insisted I do everything from dig for worms to scaling and cooking the fruits of our labours. I admit, it was fun and I was proud of my catch of 6 trout. )

88. Had chickenpox

89. Saved someone’s life

90. Sat on a jury

91. Met someone famous (No-one to get really excited about – I met two famous celebs at one of those mall kind of meet-and-greet things – Mr. Dressup – kind of the Canadian Captain Kangaroo in a way, and Flipper! Yes! They had a tank in the parking lot at the local mall and there was “Flipper” flapping about doing tricks and squeaking in that high-pitched voice of his. At the time, I really believed it was my beloved dolphin idol, but now, I’m a bit skeptical.

92. Joined a book club

93. Lost a loved one (Unfortunately, I can say, “yes” to this one. Most of you know I lost my father just last November. My heart goes out to anyone who has lost or is losing someone they love. It hurts.)

94. Had a baby (Not in God’s plan for me or for us as a couple.)

95. Seen the Alamo in person

96. Swum in the Great Salt Lake

97. Been involved in a law suit

98. Owned a cell phone (I own one, but rarely use it. I don’t “Text” and we just pay-as-you-go.)

99. Been stung by a bee ( I have a morbid fear of bees and even jumped out of a moving car once when one landed on my sister who was sitting next to me. I was stung by one that was inside my coat. I had taken it off and lain it on a chaise longue; when I put it back on, the bee stung my back.)

100. Ridden an elephant ( I would love to do this!)