POETRY
  BY KATHRYN G. MCCARTY
C o n s t a n t

I.  First thought of you, October:
Welcome water dripping
down my
nose
as  priceless gift rather  than annoyance
With chocolate and coffee
combined in one
with drips from a gully shower
which send me laughing and blinking
Seeing through the rain
each drop on my eyelash crystal clear
It was at that moment I knew.

I thought love would be simple
With childish beliefs  I never expected jealousy
The weighing of words, measurement of thought,  action
no one must ever hurt

There are no excuses
I am afraid I have known you before
In lifetimes spent as recklessly as penny wishes in a fountain
There must have been pain

II
The feminine knows only this way
of passive daydreams
fulfilled by momentary weakness.
When one reaches this point of yearning
Physical  action is simplest;
Nothing unreasonable, silent confusion.

III.
Some days I wonder if I will ever be ready:
To have completed youth before turning gray
(yet to grow complete
from incomplete
may be impossible)
Chalk it up to cheap booze
and insecurity
forgive my brutal honesty
Vulnerability is not one of my stronger suits

The mind is  conquest; the body,
soul, all left to imagination:
Love is the only constant.

T O W A R D S  T H E  S U N   I N   T H E   T O W E R   O F  B A B E L

Smoke never leaves, always remains
hanging onto the form of its birth
Be it wood or ashes, lingers in the air.

I think of things I cannot say
to the man who says "I love you"
when I leave, who hears response without words
The significance of loving,
creating vulnerability in touch, talk
The significance of naiveté
When love is never wrong
Before fear, joy blends passionately together.

The blue eyed black man in the corner
quizzes with his upward glance
into my face
he is what he is
perhaps it is so simple,
only requires that you listen in childlike wonder.

To listen  is to walk in your mind,
frighten myself with your loneliness
For it is my own.
My grandmother collected butterflies
So that I might someday swallow them whole
Red net held high in hand
My grandmother was a frigid woman who swallowed
butterflies like semen
And yet it always felt the same
One eye blinded,  both eyes closed
Self mutilation of the fullest degree, choice.
It is my decision -
I have the capacity to know all
yet I accept very little
Only assuming I am a part of your life.
My father tells me to separate fact from fiction
(but that most of it is bullshit)
All truths my own
I am not weak, only afraid
The two are not the same.
Surprised by what you've made me feel,
I think of things I cannot say
to the man who says 'I love you," when I leave.


H A N N S J O R G :  W A T E R M A N   B A T H E D  I N  F A N C Y

Met a stranger in a French cafe
tequila drunken
Marlboro-smoke-high
He took me by the hand through silent cathedral stoned streets

He said:  We have no regrets, there are only choices
No mistakes.
We satisfy our appetite,  accepting anything less
is a choice not worth the taking

After my first visit to his bedside he warned:
Do not fall in love with me
make sure I am someone whose touch you can forget
The eyes, smile will fade,  only the word remains
Any more would sadden me

After these many months I see you again
refreshed in the memory of my own comfort
The writer and musician sit together now
Cold coffee, hash pipe philosophies
Consumption of our souls in laugher
If my life could stay this simple
I would gather your songs like stones in my hand
Scatter them upon the water
Watch the waves ripple towards me.
Then, bathed in whispered music
I would understand the passion of simplicity.

Listen.
Expect nothing,
Acceptance is all we require

Met a stranger in a French cafe

T h e  P a i n t e r

I see the sound
Humhumhum murmur of music
Interlude of color
Abstraction of vibrant noise
The color of laughter is red
Subtle shade of gray as
differentiating life from
eternal sleep
One brush stroke as brutal
as hands brushing wind before
the touch of flesh
Rings with burning sensation
The absence of color
Light
Unfiltered, highlighted by the darkness of voices no one else
will ever hear
Likened only to whispers
of muses
I relax to their tune
Close my eyes.


L E T T E R S  T O  D A N N Y Danny O'Connor, murdered in Chicago,  1989

Dear friend,
I talked to you last night
met you in dreams of misunderstandings
Feeling lonely, I had gone inside to find you waiting
Question God, Why take him?
Question myself, Why stay?
Speak to you in shadows of falls golden leaves
I miss you Danny.
Try holding you inside me, squeeze lids tight
If I could only shut you into my world
I would protect you there, blanket you in my arms
Feed you poetry of my passion's lyrical laugher
Open my throat wide and hum the tune of your touch
I see your last moments
Stand helpless in youth's imagination
your hands are bruised from fighting
I have sent you sensual images of what
the living is like without you
I have touched worlds for you, jealous that you have gone before
leaving me searching my answers alone
They slashed his eye
They cut the very soul of my memory
He said:  I hope they find me in the morning
before the blood is cold
I hope they find me in the morning

You signed all your letters
"Love Me."
Dearest Danny,
I did.


P L A Y I N G   H O U S E

Painted and dressed in mock furniture
Eclectic style pieced year by year
into an image neither recognized
Fragranced  with cleansers
and stored within pages of a well worn book

Moved swiftly through years
Boy and Girl growing separate
yet bound by all that surrounded them.
Learned  to mimic time and place
Illusions created in hearts broken and scarred
by that which was never meant to hurt

Filled stomaches off tables ringed with water
Cultivated weeds
as nothing else would grab hold and flower the soil, 
laid on their backs
feeding  music to a ceiling
which looked down and smiled
Hung mirror images for accent
filled with dialects of incomprehensible reflections
Promises broken without cause or probability
Without knowledge
Filmed and captured
as a voice suspended in time above all other
possibilities

Got drunk on regret
Stroked by sorrow and bedded down with disillusionment
Awoke to silences which deafened
where perfection once stood


O N   M I K E ' S   E L O P E M E N T

Our only physical denominator:
the Sun shining on us
In such distant lands, yet warmed by the same hands
I envision the moment
Experience that which I am only psychically a part of
I tap into the sun which warms my skin
and I pray it falls on you
People who love you have been thinking about you all day
All mentally connected to the power
Open my mind to your thoughts
The idea of my being there only in spirit crosses your mind
You laugh.

The wedding started late
Flowers, a bouquet, flowers in her hair
The images come harshly, focused
Mimosas for breakfast
Your hair glistening
Palms sweating
You think of the responsibilities
The sons to come that will carry on the family name
You think of mom, of me
Of how, with this step you become more like Dad
You think of your own mortality, of hers
You think of God
You think of God as you did as a child

Focus on the words you speak
Listening to an idea word by word
For the first time understand that to see truth is to honor it
You realize something of what Forever is,
although the concept is intangible
You realize you are happy,
that very few moments in your life
will ever fill you as  this one does.
TWO VOICES FOR THOMAS

SHE

I watch him sleeping
stink socks paper strewn beer cans
He farts

SHE AND ME

I watch him sleeping

ME

Moon lights clouds
from behind like the sun
Full moon bright
I can see his face in shadows
on the wall
watch him breathing

SHE

I stand over and watch him sleep
Pray over him no harm

ME

I saw him standing over me
On his right should three birds
large black beaked birds
He took off his shirt
Gave it to me
Left quietly through the window
as he had entered

SHE

At two, three maybe
I remember the first time it happened
he came to me
I smelled her in his hands
Cunt juices fragrance sweet

ME AND SHE

I love him

SHE

He told me of her once
Once I forgave.
What makes me take him again
From lust
to fear
to laziness
I continue on.ME
I iron
I washclean pristine fresh sheets
I cook and early morning coffee
I cleancrisp white collars
I ironsmell bacon
I wash
I cook
I clean
I iron
I wash
I cook
I clean



ME
I roll over
Sleep

SHE

Fear, lust
laziness
Morning.

ME

Night
I wait for nights
My day is full of waiting
He only wants me because he can’t have me
And that makes me want him more.

SHE

Fresh Onions
I’ve been cutting
all day
Onions
They say the onions,
the odor makes you cry.
Try holding my breath against her.

I thought the answers were clear enough
Till death do
we two part

ME

We two part

SHE

A cathedral of Linen
Communion wafers
on outstretched tongue
For better or for
worse

ME

The worst part is very quietly loving you
Holding on to you, my friend

Don’t think I’m too serious about this though,
I’ve been seeing other men
At the back of my mind you stand
Lingering with your bad jokes
We are a cliché

SHE

He is everything to me

ME

He is nothing to me
I painted my nails
the brightest crimson I could fine
Caressed his back with
the softness of knives
left my mark
he refuses to speak
Dick hard forehead lined in concentration
I told her
he says
I told her once
What will I tell her this time
I got a blow job from a terrific friend?

ME AND SHE

He leaves

SHE

And everything I have ever believed in
ever wanted walks
Silently in his shadowME
I though he was my friend
I though I could trust himlust, fear,
I gave him everythinglaziness

ME

The first time
I told him I loved him
That was a mistake
Afterwards
I gave him nothing
and wanted everything

SHE

I gave him everything

ME AND SHE

Square jaw broad back hips tight to mine

SHE

For the moment
he makes me
comfortable with his smile
and warm
with laughter
Wet with his touch
he was my first

ME

There are two rug burns on my arm
The day goes by
I touch
Smile
In pain I think of you
Do you have anything to remember me by?

SHE

He was my first.
my first.
In twenty, thirty years
the house of my body
the rose nippled breast
will sag and dip
Bowels will falter
Teeth removed  eyes bifocaled
Forehead lined Hair silvered Womb parched
And through this time
We will grow together
I will have no other

ME

This is the last
This is the last time
I taste him
He had no risks
Knew he would always return
All risks are my own
He falters.  Sleeps.

SHE AND ME

I stand over
and watch him sleep
Pray over him no harm


BREAD BAKING TIME

VOICE ONE

Monday, 12:32 a.m., so that’s Tuesday really.
Was at Gaye’s house when I got a call that Mike was on his way and minutes later he screeched around the corner in the truck and we’re here in less than an hour driving 85 or 90 all the way.  Mom’s heart stopped around 8, and they did CPR.  She is responding to kisses and words with hand squeezes.

She’s on 100% oxygen.  Her pH level will kill her if her heart or lungs don’t stop first.  Her heart is beating at 142 beats a minute.

I hugged her and when I looked up there was blood in her mouth.

Last night I washed dishes, exactly how she told me, with her voice in the background.  “This is my house and you’ll do it how I want it done.”  I also started picking up all her medicine and putting it away.  I looked through the old photo albums and then I looked at her closet and couldn’t think of what to do with her clothes.  Then I put lots of dishes away, and I could barely walk I cried so hard.  I think about how I will feel five years from now and if I will still cry this much.

VOICE TWO

My mother used to stand in the kitchen
on early winter mornings and bake bread.
He brow knit hard in concentration,
she’d light the gas pilot.
On the coldest days, she’d throw open
the door and lean in:  waiting.
I though perhaps she’d stay forever,
but she’d always pull out just in time.
With a smile.  Like death visited and revisited.  I will always remember the smell of rising yeast
and warm buttered bread
that roused me out from wool blankets,
feet to cold wooden floor, mouth watering
stomach always yearning

VOICE ONE

There is an odor to mom, a smell I’ve never smelt before and it makes me sick.

VOICE TWO

I can smell it in the air now,
fragrance as sweet as mourning rain
On days when you can see your breath
in vapors that fog the windows
I press my face against it, looking at the distorted picture. 
Always seeing you.
Same smile
Same eyes
Same stare

VOICE ONE

Its 5:45 a.m.  I have been in the ICU room since 4.  A while ago I looked down and mom had this thick blood running out of her mouth.  That’s twice.  Her G tube (stomach) is full of bloody coffee ground shit.  her kidneys have stopped so she’s swelling because of the water backup and this one lady nurse couldn’t draw any blood, only fluid.
Shit.
It won’t be long now.


VOICE TWO

It is bread baking time
reaching for your recipe
I have always done it your way,
becoming more like you
with each cup of flour
with the kneading of the bread
Needing you.

VOICE ONE

11:35.  Asked mom if she hurt and she nodded yes.  So got her a shot.  Dad came in.  “The three smartest things I ever did in my life were you her and you and Mike.  I always said I didn’t want kids, but secretly I did.  Then you came along and you had two arms and two legs to you, and you were healthy and normal.  And I was happy.  I always wanted a boy though.  I was glad to have you, but I wanted a boy.  That was Mike.”

“I’m going to the lounge,” my father said.  “I have a headache.”

2:16  Her lips are blue-ish and so is her skin tone.  If I touch her with my nail, the imprint stays.  her kidneys stopped so it’s fluid build-up.  The cancer is throughout her body.  The whites of her eyes are greenish yellow and her tongue is swollen.  Mike and Dad are sleeping.

Yesterday or night before I could have sworn I heard mom whistle for me.  It was louder than she could talk after she lost her voice.  When I slept in her hospital bed out in the living room, a  million times I thought I heard her call me.  or I saw her standing there watching me.  Her face gets bluer.  I wanna go hold her hand.  She will never see my kids.


VOICE TWO

I kneel beside the oven
Lay my head inside,
wait for the warmth of sleep.  Wait.
Pull out just in time.
Like death visited and revisited.

VOICE ONE

Its 7 and my mother is dead and I have never felt like this before.  I was at the room sleeping and Mike came and we came here and she was almost gone and cold and unconscious and blowing air bubbles like kids do to be annoying.  And we watched the numbers on the machine click to zero.  And I cried in the bathroom in the floor with all the lights out and then I threw up and now they are taking all the tubes out so we can go in and visit with her and something smells really bad and my father is praying and he’s never prayed before like that and they’re calling people and I’m in the lounge staring at things

VOICE TWO

This is how it is done.
Generation to generation.
Mother to daughter.
And on the bitterest mornings, I rise just before sunrise,
ready to fill this empty belly
Always yearning for more.