Traceries of snow

have designed a landscape

upon my window:

The drifts below

make ideal ground

to hold the roots

of icy trees

that trickle down

from the tops of the panes.

Brightly coloured butterflies

pasted to the glass inside

to ward off birds

that might collide,

look out of place

behind the lacy intricacy

of H2O’s frozen veins.

It blows and wails outside;

the gusts of snow

do not subside,

the birds drop down

to no avail;

while I bide here

beside the fire’s glow.


Kathleen Mortensen © 2017


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


Little do they know
These eskimo-birds that pepper the snow
Outside my sliding door,
I wait for them to come every year.

The hardy tiny ones that dig at the snow
With their delicate feet,
Have nothing to fear from me.

Each morning before they appear on my deck
I throw seed on the snow that has fallen
While we all slept.

I’ve built them a place to buffet the blow
Of those winds that rise up from the deeps of the snow
To ruffle their tail feathers.

I keep them sheltered and fed,
Hoping that each day they’ll come back
And get me through the long days of snow ahead.

Kathleen Mortensen © 2016

Not Enough …

Not enough sun
to thaw the ice
sticking to deck-timber.

Not enough sun
to melt the icing-sugar
dusting the clover.

Not enough sun
to warm the birds’ backs
enticing them to linger.

Not enough sun
to keep the iced stone bath
bearing only water.

Not enough sun
to heat my icy heart
this cold November.

Kathleen Mortensen©2016


The death of summer has me desolate.

Verdure goes gold, then turns  to tinder on the ground;
warm-weather birds have blown away
with the winds of autumn.

I have put my dear friends to bed—
sheared off their heads and abandoned them
to their sleep.

The first snow falls, leaving me cold;
a crow’s call cracks the sound
of silence.

Winter creeps in.

I have no illusions;  I am housebound,
until spring comes back.

Kathleen Mortensen © 2016


Driving against the winter sun,
I am blind with the dazzle that pings
off windshields and metal things.
My window’s streaked by the wiper’s blade;
there’s a half-moon of lard, hard in my white-out view.
My hands grasp the rubber wheel while I idle at a red;
creep along with my head
tucked under the visor— blinking at the too-bright light.
Rear-mirror reveals another driver,
stealing behind in the same frame of mind – we’re all blind.

Big-boot poised on the gas-pedal, I hope my heel doesn’t stick
to the edge of the mat on the floor—
accelerate me into eternity.

Kat Mortensen©2010

Autumnal Apologia

Don’t write of every one that falls, from branch at Autumn-time;
Resist those vibrant colours gone to rust and gold, from lime.
No need to mark the pull of breeze that tugs from tender tree;
Better men than we, have said it all, so leave it be.

Don’t speak of sugared-maples, in their burning-glory daze;
Of lazy oaks, slow-turning acorns’ minions to a blaze,
Of dogwood’s purple palmates; birches, high, of honeyed hue;
Abundant odes of homage have been writ to pay their due.

And yet, the flutter, floating free, that carries each one down,
The dance of profuse partners, tumbling, tripping top to crown,
Can turn the head unfailingly, the pen to page, so fleet,
Each instance when a leaf descends to earth, its end to meet.

So we’ll forgive the impulse, once again, to talk of this:
Nature’s shedding season, bedding down for winter’s kiss.

Kat Mortensen©2010