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


eXhibit “B”

(Pre-Performance – do I look nervous? A little drop of Laphraoig Islay Malt helped with that!)

So, some of you may be wondering how the poetry event I participated in went down last night. Well, from my perspective, it was a more than modest success. I was able to conquer those first night jitters and take my place at the front of a room of people and for the first time ever, share my poetry aloud and in person with people other than my husband and my mom. It was a huge thrill and I get palpitations just thinking about it now!

I was up second–by choice. I figured it was best to let someone warm up the crowd and Unstruck’s rhyming rap to accompaniment of hip hop soundtrack, proved to be compelling, spiritual and uplifting–perfect to enervate the crowd of approximately 20. (Unstruck will be performing at Hype on King in Kitchener on Sept 6 at City Hall.)

Following my readings–after a short break–James McAuliffe took the stage and captivated us all with his vigourous, colloquial, everyman poetry. We were gripped by his political stance, chuckled at his satirical voice and even stunned by some of his riskier vocalizations. The highlight was definitely when he addressed one of his works to the kitchen through the cutout in the wall.

When Terre opened up the Mic, we were also treated to a moving poem about children of poverty, by a lovely and graceful woman named Elaine.

Yes, it was certainly a motley crew we made at the Ars Poetica event, but I believe all who attended were not disappointed.

I owe a great debt of gratitude to Terre Chartrand, the extraordinary young woman who coordinated the event, but more than that, proved to be a warm, funny and highly supportive person. She did a great job bringing 3 very distinct poets together and making it work. I’m certain the others had very positive things to say about the experience and how welcome we were made.

For anyone who wishes to read about the actual event – and see some pics of the 3 of us who performed, check out the Salon des Merveilles

Thanks to my friends who listened and posted their selections on my poll. I did take into account your preferences and these are the poems I ultimately read:

Dorothy’s Adventure

Lament of the Fiddleheads
Three Grackles, Bathing
Body Count
Tea Totaller
Scraps of Me

with a bit of an encore during the Open Mic portion featuring the following pieces:

Oh Nymph!
Snow Upon Snow

I received some generous and unexpected kind comments that made me feel I’m definitely on the right track. It was a big night!