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Nov 2014 · 912
Homesick
Margrethe H K Nov 2014
How the trees lean to the south
where the sun swallows the day

How the moon at night will push her
over the western edge
spilling colors into the sea

How in the garden at night
I make my way through shadow
following the music of loons

their sad blue notes
rising into a glossy sky
sparkled with stars

forever falling
Nov 2014 · 1.1k
Strawberry Field
Margrethe H K Nov 2014
I find my mother in the strawberry field
Not far from the river, kneeling in the dirt

the sun beats down her back
gray hair ruffling in a hot wind

It hasn’t rained in a month
and the earth is an old woman’s face,
cracked with longing

I kneel beside her, our hands on the dusty earth
This earth that she has dug every spring
kneeled upon every summer

Barefoot and sun burnt, plucking ripe red fruit
For pies and jams

Juice-stained lips and tired backs
My mother and her mother, on the porch
Sipping Sherry in sunsets of July’s and Augusts, year after year
Comparing blisters, freckles, wrinkles, lives
Buckets of strawberries overflowing in the kitchen sink

This year the strawberries are withered
*****, red raisins on my tongue
That taste bitter and sharp

I watch my mother, keening softly on the ground
Her heart peeled open and raw

I whisper to her, The dead don’t live very far away

Her swollen grey eyes search the field across the river
As if she expects to see Grandma standing there
Waving, mouthing soundless words on the air

I know when it’s her turn to change worlds, it will be me,
Kneeling here, in the sun’s bright assault
My own daughter by my side,
Witness to this grief,

Her soft, comforting voice, telling me,
The dead don’t live very far away.
Oct 2014 · 924
The Problem
Margrethe H K Oct 2014
Outside the sky clogs like bruises
I lay in bed and smoke, thinking
you have disappointed me for the last time

I dream I am in bed with a new lover
watching my reflection in his eyes

The way he says my name, like prayer
like scripture
as if he has come into a sacred place
and each touch must preserve even while it plunders

Last night the bed was a nest of nerves and wrong turns
knees bumping out of rhythm
the scraping of teeth
my ring catching your skin

And the red luminous glow of the alarm clock
measuring the long hours of frustration

Then the crack of a beer can opening
and the sound of your ****
splashing across the toilet seat
in the dark

And in that moment I knew
the problem was you

and not

the absence of my *******.
Oct 2014 · 769
Winter's Song
Margrethe H K Oct 2014
In the watermark of night
we are black shadows swaying

hands finding hips finding thighs
in the dark

blades aligned
we cut stars in ice

back arching in your hands
my hair sweeps a frozen lake

arms stretching distant skies
under the taunt of stars
you pull me in

your face in the moon

winter’s song
longing

your lips

salty
red flowers

I will taste
Oct 2014 · 728
Dust
Margrethe H K Oct 2014
I stand with the living
under a smoke filled pavilion
where shots of whiskey fill tall glasses
and dogs run free

Someone sings my eulogy on a karaoke machine
children color my headstone with
Sapphire Blue and Burnt Orange #10

The music of my dying
sweeps across the gaping earth on a dusty wind
fills it with the voices of the living

My children fly kites in the field
yelling out the stories of their births

You were born in a snowstorm
You were born under a full moon
I was born at sunrise!  the baby yells

The kites swirl, tangle
fall

They huddle and cry
I feel the world crack open

Remember me, whispers the dust
Oct 2014 · 847
The Color of Blood
Margrethe H K Oct 2014
The way he blows the smoke out
his eyelids slightly lowering
I know he wants me

I touch my finger to the rim of the glass
tell another lie

There’s a way people draw things out of you
in strange places
veils lift
change
find new faces

All night he’s watched me behind a screen of smoke

And then the temperature reached one-hundred-and-ten, I say
so I just rappelled the rest of the way down naked

I look at him
lick the salt on my finger

Surprise crosses my face
not salt
but pomegranate sugar
sweet
the color of blood

He pulls my hand to his lips
his tongue a thick slug of suction
compressing my finger to the roof of his mouth

Teeth graze my knuckle

For several seconds
my eyes can’t rotate
Oct 2014 · 477
Where Was I?
Margrethe H K Oct 2014
Sitting up late watching the Munsters and eating cheese popcorn and listening to my teeth crackle and writing down whatever this mixed up mind sends to the hands through the pen that’s chewed to the end and three days of ***** dishes stuffed in the oven where I don’t have to look at them and I wish I was somewhere exotic drinking White Russians and dancing to some Cajun beat with a tall dark-haired stranger I once saw in a dream back in the days of sleep-ins and late nights of laugh therapy before the days of real therapy and heavy sessions of what happened to me when I was five or fifteen or that night I got a little too close to that guy in the other lane and sunrises were a walk home after a night of who cares and where was I anyway?
Oct 2014 · 497
What Dogs Dream
Margrethe H K Oct 2014
Gray-curving slopes
Wind-washed creek beds
Foxes bones, starched white under a cold sun

Shivers of grass
Smell of clay, pine
*****

They stand together, nostrils flared

The spine of a dark morning
Stretching awake.
Oct 2014 · 854
Pizza Night
Margrethe H K Oct 2014
My mother has run away again, I find the note on the kitchen counter
next to an overflowing ashtray of butts covered in lipstick

My sister reads in and laughs, “The divorce thing again,”
she tosses it in the trash and says, “It’s pizza night.”

When my father gets home he knows she’s gone by the sound of a blaring radio
and unrestrained laughter in the kitchen

I have flour in my hair, my sister is wiping tomato sauce off her face
with the front of her shirt

He stands in the doorway without speaking, tilting sideways
his tired body leaning into the frame

Our eyes meet, and I think how handsome he still is
with so many losses inside

“It’ll be alright,” I say, but something in his face breaks
already parts of him falling away

We hold him in the doorway
his head resting between our shoulders

Just low enough so I can read my sister’s lips
when she mouths the word ***** and shakes her head

I imagine our mother in some air-conditioned hotel room
down by the river
ordering room service and cigarettes

Sprawled across the bed, sipping scotch
and watching her favorite  show
a half-smile at the edge of her mouth

knowing she’ll get her way
Oct 2014 · 646
Midnight at Krogers
Margrethe H K Oct 2014
Between frozen foods and dairy
I bump into a brief ex

Hey, he says pointing to the beef burritos in my cart,
You’re not a vegetarian anymore?

Above our heads a voice crackles over a faulty intercom,
“Assistance needed in the meat department”

Pink flowers held behind him
Axe stinking up aisle 4

He eyes the chocolate donuts and six pack
sitting on top of a 20lb bag of cat food

Ready for the weekend, huh?

In the parking lot
I accidentally scrape his car
three times

I leave a note on the windshield

*Your recognizing my face
Doesn’t mean you know me
Oct 2014 · 644
Alphabet of Stars
Margrethe H K Oct 2014
If this were a poem
I'd climb the long stairs to the attic and
crouch by the window
where snow gathers on the sill

Study the field of stars

How they fall, wanton
oblivious to boundaries

How each light
could be a door to another world
that my body would slip through
if it knew the way

This is where the poem would build

Between the edge of the window I grip
and the endless space of nothingness
that calls to me

*Come learn the alphabet of stars
Oct 2014 · 434
Letters from New York
Margrethe H K Oct 2014
My mother wore wigs and drank bourbon on Sundays
while my father worked across the street

I'd watch him from my bedroom window
sewing, stapling
hammering out frustrations I couldn't name

I called my sister David
because I wanted a brother
and a different family

My mother called my father Jesus
because she said he thought he was perfect

"Jesus, cut the grass."
"Jesus, take out the trash."
"Jesus, just ******* do it."

I'm grown up now
my name isn't Stupid Girl anymore
I've inherited my mother's rage
and my father's heavy sighs

Dark days I find myself thinking
my finger tracing the rim of a shot glass
you can't outgrow
what you're made of

And I feel inside of me
the breaking of glass

My sister writes me long letters from New York
she signs them all
love, David
Oct 2014 · 421
Something Terrible
Margrethe H K Oct 2014
Last night in a dream
an old woman cut my hair
it fell to the floor in chunks
and she whispered
you're cursed in relationships

This morning I sit in a house
haunted by mistakes
burning cigarette holes in the tablecloth
rage smoldering with every drag

I want to write something dangerous

I want to write a poem that can break a wine glass
a poem only liars can hear
one that curls around your throat in the night and whispers
It's nothing, sweetheart, go back to sleep

Something terrible
that I can embrace
******
wear

Like a bright red, furry, scaly, toothless dress
that I could put on for you

Honey
Oct 2014 · 509
The Weight of the Sea
Margrethe H K Oct 2014
The train changes tracks and
there is a pull, a deep sighing
of engine and steam

We glide from platform into water,
the train dipping beneath cool waves
into a mercury world  

Far down
dragon-fish watch me through the window,
their silver stripes like seaweed
splayed in slow motion,
moving left, then right

Like my sister’s hair
that summer in the Red River,  
my parents fell asleep in the sun
lips stained with wine,
forgetting she couldn’t swim

Her fingertips reaching for light,
a stream of bubbles surfacing,
signaling the quiet struggle

How long have I been dreaming you,
grasping handfuls of water in my sleep,
searching for the memory of your body?

Deeper down the light burns a cold red
The train groans under the weight of the sea

And she is taking me,
the sea is taking me,
a lost child in her great arms
to the red darkness below

The dragon-fish rise,
their eyes a road of stars
I cannot follow.
Oct 2014 · 347
Dog Days
Margrethe H K Oct 2014
I don’t want to hear people’s stories
but they come anyhow

Through the drone of rain on a tin roof
or a train passing deep in the night

How this one will never marry again
there are no good women left

How that one can’t get off the pills
her kids are uncontrollable

The stupid ****** ******* get-togethers
where someone always has to bring it up

About the lucky ******* who invented the paper clip
and never has to worry again

My sister left her kids
even the baby
the asthmatic one

Stammering ma-ha ma-ha all night long
her husband phoning every hour

no, nothing, not yet

The neighbor dog’s insistent whining
somebody forgot to feed him

and the dull weight of a child in my arms
crying for a mother
long gone
Margrethe H K Oct 2014
pushes his plate toward me and says he didn’t order eggs.  On the bar-stool next to him a woman in penguin pajamas is filling out a job application.  I take the eggs, replace them with a bowl of acorns and he salts them down, licks his upper lip, each fleshy tip of tongue curling away from the other.  My dad had hair like yours, I say, thick and red.  When I was five I used to brush it, but one day he asked me to and I said no.  He pours dirt in his coffee and stirs it with a piece of wood.  The door jingles open and a young couple stand on the mat shaking ice from their curls.  The woman in penguin pajamas is asleep with her thumb in her mouth.  Soon after that he went away and I never saw him again.  A teakettle whistles and the young couple begins to dance, the bells on their shoes ringing, flashing silver shards of light across the walls.  Forty-five years old, some days still think it’s my fault.  The man with the lizard tongue leans in, mouth opening.  His tongue traces the swell of my bottom lip; I taste salt and dirt.  Outside a catfish swims by the window, its eyes as big as dinner plates.

— The End —