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Sample Poems by Cati Porter


Land of Elemental Losses

Something else hauls me through air -
not this mare that I ride in on;
not this wind, nor its fingers in my hair,

and neither its bleak echo; nor the rare
low car cleaving the darkling fawn.
Something else hauls me through air -

bright beam, black care
ever at my heels, soapy as the dawn.
Not this wind, nor its fingers in my hair,

can halt me, Godiva-bared,
as I scatter the geese gone.
Something else hauls me through air,

but again, the mare rears-
by heart-habit, breathy, indrawn.
Not this wind, nor its fingers in my hair

can know the accordion of the hour,
nor can it borrow time; neither can it pawn.
Something else hauls me through air.
Not this wind, nor its fingers in my hair.


Miss Carriage

Nope, no horse.
No buggy. Missed
the boat. Hit & miss,
hit on Miss. Miss
Taken mistaken
for a yellow-belly,
for a gold god
wrestling for
a piece of it,
for a peace. Less
shiny as the years
go. Gotta buy a
piece to shoot herself
in her achilles.
Thought she could handle
you but you have none,
slippery, slipped right
out the vault dressed
in red, in uneasy plush
push push push. Not.
She can't have what
it is that she's mistaken
herself for having
and she will not take
her boat and float
it, whatever floats it.
She will not upend
it as it is still, and floating
in the pale waters
of the bowl, bled out
and scooped up
by her restless hand
where it listlessly drips
red red red red red
and she will not
cry, she will
not, cry.

The Farmers Wife

- an apostrophe

Husband, I have removed
any reference to myself
as belonging to you.

Mornings spent
with milky dawn spilling
pale across this pasture

have caused me to believe
that no one should bear
the burden of ownership;

no one should carry that scythe
on their shoulder; it cleaves much more
than wheat from chaff.

I have seeded this soil
with sweat, grown weary
of your lengthy absence,

and my regret. Still
I do not leave. But - alone in this field -
you may not possess me.


Warning!

Here is the dark-hearted cave, the blood-bloom of a kiss on your ear.
I have swallowed your tongue to taste what sweetness is not.

Here is a stuttering hand, a lapsed thrill that you are leaking onto, and out of.
In this there is no room for a key, but a lake likes the swim of you, the fin.

The cliffs loom like cherry-licked ice, melting into the vertical and smiling.
Clear and sharpening its claws. You have no bones that lift your skin,

no bone-hangers on which to drag your dress around. Flip the switch
and the heart bleats like a lighted skull, like a sheep you have

fitted with a luminescent flare. It burns and the scene whistles steam.
It runs and leaps and little sweaters march single file on command

but not to warm you. To warn you: I say, Look out for the falling lamb.
To pickle you I must spell the word "backwards" three times, climb

the ladder to unlatch the trunk. Here is your bloodless berry.