Katie Staten

Life through a Literary Lens

Black Cat

NaPoWriMo 2019 Day 23–Prompt Here

Black as the vacuum
of space, with a galaxy
shining through each eye.
This fierce, soft beauty. This fierce,
soft miracle in sunlight.

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Minuet

NaPoWriMo Day 22–Prompt Here

A rainstorm starts when
fingers dance on ivory,
cascades down my spine. 
It’s a grace I never learned,
so I fall in love again. 

Land of 10,000 Lakes

NaPoWriMo2019 Day 21–Prompt Here

cloudy-landscape-over-the-lake-at-algonquin-provincial-park-ontario

The land is riddled with them,
like some trypophoic nightmare,
holes in the face of our home
like pockmarks. We’re diseased
with water.

All that has ever been here is water–
sky-tinted water,
cloudy water,
swallowing everything while everything
devours it.

If you look close enough,
every creature has gills,
opening up in the necks of birds
and dogs
and mothers at shopping marts.
We shine like silver scales.
Sometimes we feed
on the things that
drown.

appropriate conversation for a party

NaPoWriMo 2019 Day 20–Prompt Here

Remember that time I almost died, he says,
laughing, because dying is funny
when it only almost happens, so I say,
which time? and he laughs again,
because by now he’s made habit
out of almost. I laugh too,
because I wrote a poem once
about a long night in the ER with him
and the way his heart wouldn’t slow down,
and that’s not funny per se
but laughing is the only answer
my throat will conjure. Remember
the next day, he says, and I don’t,
I only remember 3am waiting
for a fever to break, but just then
our daughter, born between almosts,
pulls at my sleeve, asking to be gathered
into my lap, and someone says
for the thousandth time
that she has my eyes, and she laughs.

After Winter

NaPoWriMo 2019 Day 19–Prompt Here

After winter one year they found a man’s
body not far from our apartment,
caked in mud along his back, lying low in the
ditch along the side of the highway.
Everyone was shocked, but no one really was.
Finding a body is unusual, violence is not.
Gratitude kisses the whole city on mornings like this,
hovering in the mouth of every survivor.
“I’m so glad it wasn’t me. I’m so glad it was
just someone.” Someone may as well be no one. Ambivalence
kisses the whole city on mornings like these.
Later that day, once the sirens had ceased
mingling with the sounds of spring,
news stations had already moved
on to fresher prospects.
People somewhere were dying of something
queerer, more unexpected than
rounds of ammo leaving holes for
snow to melt into. More exciting
tales to be spun. A week later I drove, due to
urgency of some errand, by the corner where this body
vied for public attention, half expecting to see it still,
waterlogged, maybe, from the snow that had buried it,
xanthic and pale, but of course it was gone. Was he
young? Did he know that he had maybe not yet reached the
zenith of his life? I drove past an empty ditch, on home.

Obituary

NaPoWriMo 2019 Day 18–Prompt Here

He is survived by the roses he planted
in the spring when he defied the vines
wrapped around his insides holding him in.

He is survived by the grass that still grows
over the burial plot next to his mother’s
where even now no body or headstone lies.

He is survived by his children. He is survived
by unfinished projects, creative fire hazards,
and a potted jungle at the living room window.

He is survived by all manner of beauty
he can no longer see. We hope, somewhere,
it brings him peace to know that beauty lives.

He is survived by the river, strong and lonely,
that carried is ashes to rest.

My Body Says

NaPoWriMo 2019 Day 17–Prompt Here

The hair on my chin proudly tells you
it’s a hand-me-down–no, an heirloom
I got from my mother,
who got hers from her mother,
just wisps, passed down through generations
in a container of self-consciousness
but that part I’m afraid I’ve lost.
Forgive me, all the women of my lineage.
I know it’s an old gift you gave me in these genes.

And speaking of jeans–
the hair on my legs
begs me not to wear them.
Advertises sundresses,
boasts the prickly curve of my calf–
let the pleated floral print
hover over a field of coarse grass.

The hair on my arms is quiet,
speaks only when spoken to.
The hair under them mumbles profanities
under its breath at passers by
but only when they deserve it.
It says, “It’s not your place to decide
whether I belong here.”
It says, “To hell with your lady-like.”

Blowing Bubbles

NaPoWriMo 2019 Day 16–Prompt Here

large-soap-bubbles_800

It’s just air inside of soap and water.
We put the air in,
and we watch it float
until the water evaporates and dries up the sphere
or until the sphere meets something dangerous,
like a blade of grass
or a spot of concrete
or the tip of a mischievous finger.
We do this once,
a deep breath let out slow;
watch it wobble and warp
until it fixes itself round
and drifts low.
We do this again,
a quick burst that pushes forward
a dozen little globes
that take off in every direction.
We watch the way it catches light.
We watch the way the wind takes them.
We watch our own breath waft away
beautifully,
peacefully,
cast in rainbow.

The Ghosts of Georgia O’Keeffe and Sigmund Freud Meet in New Mexico

NaPoWriMo 2019 Day 15–Prompt Here

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I didn’t come here to talk about painting.
Take a seat. Take a look at the sprawling open–
the rolls of the desert, the way the sky sings
the mountains home to it.

And yes, the flowers too,
the way they thank the rain
in every vibrant language,
but it’s so much more than the flowers.

Haven’t you, too, ever longed for a landscape
and all its promise? Treasures
offered up from the sand like the ocean
tide washing sea shells up–bones
worn thin and smooth and white by the finest grain–

No, I didn’t come here to talk about painting,
though I’d paint if I could.
I’d capture how the faraway horizon steals your words.
If the landscape must be a body,
let it be yours–not in the sense of desire,
but in the sense of what this kind of ocean
will one day make of your bones.
Those lines in your face that boast thoughtful,
only rivets in the sand.

And yes, the flowers too–
if there are flowers, they are your fingerprints,
worlds waiting to be offered to another,
but it’s so much more than flowers.

I didn’t come here to talk about painting.

Bitextual

NaPoWriMo 2019 Day 14–Prompt Here

stack-of-books-861x601

Mom, dad, how do I say this–you see,
I’ve been exploring my textuality.
It seems I go both ways–Or should I say, all ways!
Because we know better these days–
literature isn’t a binary.

Now look, I’m sure you have a lot of queries
about the ease of being queer
(Ha! You see what I did here?)
It’ll help you understand if you read this series–
just don’t be homophonic. please.