I met Kathie just a few years ago when she gave a workshop sponsored by Main Street Rag Publishing. We became friends and she asked me to blurb her book! That was the first time I read her poems and I found them to have a raw, honest quality that I admire. I felt as if she were sitting there telling these stories.
Kathie lives in Waukesha,Wisconsin and that sense of place influences much of her poetry. She writes about SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), and the harshness of Wisconsin winters. She hints at her own vulnerabilities but the reader also hears the presence of Midwest strength and humor.
From True Light Falls in Many Forms, published by Main Street Rag Publishing, posted with the poet’s permission.
DAY ONE OF CREATIVE WRITING CAMP
During the week that I turn 49
I am surrounded by five frilly girls
4 with L-full names and one odd duck
Callie, Kelly, Lily, Alyssa
3 are 14
2 are 13
I am surrounded by 10 oblivious breasts
5 sing-song voices
Lacy long hair and
a million expectations.
Their eyes are misty
and mine are too.
I remember this.
And an underlying vein of anger at all
that is unfair.
I remember and I wonder.
When did my mist turn pearl
instead of purple and pink and
polka dots with zebra stripes?
Faith? Not hardly.
Heart? Still beating.
And an underlying vein of joy that I rarely
But I still remember.
And on Wednesday, when I turn 49
I will work at remembering harder.
COCO NEVER HAD SAD LIGHTS
The air should shatter in riptide cracks
then fall to the parking lot in knives of ice
and murderous winter.
The sun is Winter’s falsehood.
In the truck I put on my sunglasses.
They last on my face for two seconds before
I rip them off and throw them. They ricochet
from the passenger side window and land on my
daughter’s lap. She looks at me.
“Cold,” I say. “Surprised me.”
Where do we see sunglasses?
In ads for Summer.
Blondes on the beach.
Men at cabana bars.
In Wisconsin, we need sunglasses in
The snow robs us blind.
Turns everything x-ray.
I remember buying the sunglasses.
The lady at LensCrafters gushed, “OH! Your
first pair of Chanels?”
I didn’t even know I’d chosen Coco.
It was my first pair of prescription sunglasses.
I corrected my answer, pre-spoken, from
“Uh jest wunted perscripshun’n’they were kwet,”
To “Yes! And aren’t they just DARLING?”
complete with the handhold to the side of my face.
I swear my eyelashes batted new curls
my fingernails ovaled and deep-pinked
and make-up sprouted from my pores.
I bought the sunglasses in summertime.
They are glitterpink, with two back to back
C’s in sparkle on the stems. It’s a neat design.
I didn’t know it meant Coco Chanel. I thought
she was a perfume.
Coco rode my nose all summer, my face
upturned to take in the sun.
simmerheat flowing in a fresh-air automobile.
The sun is Summer’s guarantee.
And now, Coco shivers in my daughter’s lap
as I squint my way down St. Paul Ave.,
driving into a blinding x-ray.
“Hot Coco,” I say. “She needs to be Hot Coco.”
My daughter looks at me.
When I get home, I will bring Coco inside.
She will perch on my nose and we will find
Summer in sad lights.
And a desktop heater.
With the Top Down
(Say Goodbye To SAD Lights!)
Blur of greening trees and marble sky
the brown of the river twining like the chosen
fork in that Frost poem. No frost here.
The sun is a bath of light that
leaves me reeling.
The air is snap-ribbon
glistening in the sudden upshots of
I am driving topless.
In the jungle, animals gather at the
waterhole, dip their heads down, drink
in the wet. Take it in.
Oh, deep Satisfy.
In the car, I gather myself together
after a too-long winter.
Raise my face up, drink
the yellow heat. That drenching light.
Take it in.
Oh yeah, baby.
Kathie answers my questions ~
I was in the fifth grade. I don’t remember too much about it – I know it had a moon in it. I think it was about being alone.
It would be a cup of coffee in one hand and a glass of white wine in the other. And I would be with Ellen Kort, Wisconsin’s first poet laureate, who passed away two years ago in April. She was a great friend who influenced not only my poetry, but my fiction, as well, and also the way I teach. I miss her dearly.
Kathie’s photo by Ron Wimmer of Wimmer Photography