Weaker than Water

"In the world, there is nothing more submissive and weak than water. Yet for attacking that which is hard and strong, nothing can surpass it." –Lao Tzu


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Ode to an Apothecary

It occurs to me
I’ve been counting
my year by prescriptions:
30 days,
60 days,
90 days,
happy pills,
calm pills,
water pills,
I-don’t-even-know-
what-these-are-for
pills. Those
are the driest.
I take them with diet soda,
first thing in the morning,
bubbles and acid
pushing them down
my throat.
“How are you alive?”
my brother asks me.
And I laugh.

Because why not?
Somewhere, someone
else can barely
get out of bed,
his legs only good
as reminders,
and somewhere else,
a lover has a headache,
the real deal,
the kind that doesn’t
let you open your eyes,
and somewhere else,
a mother stares vacantly
at her burned out house,
a little girl
in a fragmented dress,
hugging her leg
tightly enough
to leave more bruises.
No, my meds
are the least of life’s problems,
and this mess of a home
with pink socks on the floor
(they’re supposed to be white),
black dog fur clumped on the rug,
pale cat hair clothing the sofa,
dishes in the sink,
the trite clutter of middle America,
who cares?
It’s about perspective,
and thirty million people in China
really don’t give a damn
about my fat rear
or my split ends
or anything
having to do with zits.
The bags under my eyes
are a little darker this morning,
puffy as I think about
the great weight of the world.
What’s that, Big Pharma?
You’re taking over the planet?
Good luck with that.
Not everyone can afford you.

Copyright 2016
Katherine Gotthardt
All Rights Reserved

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Senior Year

It was the way Survey of English Lit

lay on the t.v. tray in the two-door closet

I’d turned into an office.

You see, the apartment was small

and your infant lungs large,

forcing out cries like I did words,

typing on my Mac Classic,

trying to get my Master’s thesis done.

 

There were no walls to separate

mother and daughter, no boundaries

or untruths or air spray to cover

the smell of sour milk. There

was no crib or changing table

from Pottery Barn or even Ikea.

There was the donated cradle

from Peter down the street who

had three kids and knew what it was like

to have only a nook to call his own.

 

Peter’s youngest was three at the time,

climbing into the red 1979 pickup

we’d eventually buy for one-thousand U.S. dollars,

Bondo falling off the fender,

like a woman’s mud mask left on too long.

That’s how we began, by begging.

That’s the way we started a life,

our life together, our life of moving

from state to state until we settled here

where I type now in a family room

on an expansive, cluttered desk

that takes up half a wall.

 

Next to me, craft supplies pig-pile

on a battered rolling cart,

drawers falling off the tracks,

each bottom hindering a top,

keeping them from opening

while every afternoon

you come home from high school,

and I ask you how your day was.

Katherine Gotthardt
Copyright September 15, 2014


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Christmas Carol

Because spirits gifted winter on our doorsteps,

and because the way the rain morphed

into pieces of Advent and Christmas and New Year,

we celebrate by turning on the fire.

 

I have often wished for “real fire,” the kind

that starts with wood, not gas and switches.

But on a day when trees lean in to introduce

themselves, it matters not—and besides,

I can greet the pines without guilt. Good fire

is good fire, after all, and heat as essential as skin.

 

Our children cut cardstock into Christmas greetings,

shapes transformed to acts of love, the scent

of plenty and light, the sound of pages turning,

and I wonder how the other half lives.

 

But then again, I know.

 

There are no fires in the tents of the homeless,

no paper or scissors or glue sticks,

no green bows or hot, spiced tea, or computer

keys tapping out poems. There are bellies

 

and fright of the poor, icicles threatening

canvass and bone, sneakers in lieu of boots,

sterno a luxury sometimes shared.

 

We light a candle for them—real fire, real wax,

real affluence, these dry matches and wicks. We

recite Biblical stories, angels declaring salvation,

manger protecting an awaited king, animal breath

heating hay. And at this moment, with snow

blocking our way to action,

the best we can do is hope.

 

Dec. 6, 2009

Copyright KMG

 


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Unemployment

Ever
break down
on a road
screaming
with rush
hour and rain?

Maybe
you had
to walk. Maybe
you
wore jewelry,
a flowery dress,
worried
about your
cheap shoes, so
you
took them
off, only to

have
a Mercedes
blow mud puddles
in
your eyes
when you cried.

Katherine Gotthardt
draft 2
copyright May 15, 2013


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No justice here, so…

No Sense Waiting

If I

did nothing

but wait for justice,

I’d blight

into a tired

lady, creaking by

in disappointment,

reeking of wasted time.

copyright March 23, 2013, Katherine Gotthardt


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Carol to Remember on New Year’s Eve

 Christmas Carol

Because spirits gifted winter on our doorsteps,
because the way the rain morphed
into pieces of Advent and Christmas and New Year,
we celebrated by turning on the fire.

I have often wished for “real fire,” the kind
that starts with wood, not gas and switches.
But on a day when trees lean to introduce
themselves, it matters not–and besides,
I can greet the pines without guilt. Good fire
is good fire, after all, and heat as essential as skin.

Our children cut cardstock into Christmas greetings,
shapes transformed to acts of love, the scent
of plenty and light, the sound of pages turning,
and I wondered how the other half lives.

But then again, I know.

There are no fires in the tents of the homeless,
no paper or scissors or glue sticks,
no green bows or hot, spiced tea or computer
keys tapping out poems. There are bellies

and fright of the poor, icicles threatening
canvass and bone, sneakers in lieu of boots,
sterno a luxury sometimes shared.

We light a candle for them–real fire, real wax,
real affluence, these dry matches and wicks. We
recite Biblical stories, angels declaring salvation,
manger protecting an awaited king, animal breath
heating hay. And at this moment, with snow
blocking our way to action,

the best we can do is hope.
___________________________
Copyright Katherine Gotthardt

Dec. 6, 2009


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A Hodge-Podge of Haynaku

New Haiku Form: Haynaku* (and derivatives)

Posting these individually is too time consuming and unwieldy, so please excuse the crappy formatting of these poems.  As I read them, though, I see that combined, they tell a story.  I will leave it up to you to figure out what the story means.  It’s about me–and all of us.

Note the dates are out of order. Also note there is a new crop of Haynaku growing on this site.   Finally, note that when I refer to ears ringing, it’s because I have constant tinnitus.

Like all poems on this site and my other sites, these works are copyrighted.

———————————————-

Pseudo Haynaku

Elephants

are the

Buddha reincarnated. All

are worth

preserving.

Copyright KMG

Dec. 16, 2012

 __________________________

 

Interruption of Service

How easily we become disconnected

when it’s only the internet

between me and thee.

copyright Dec. 14, 2012 KMG

  __________________________

Salvation Army

The ringing in my ears

can’t be cured.

But poverty can.

KMG

Dec. 13, 2012

 __________________________

Statement, Prayer or Both

It’s
all about
connecting peacefully. Amen.

11/20/12

 __________________________

Six Word Salute

You visited. Suddenly,
I understood
war.

Veteran’s Day

Nov. 11, 2012

  __________________________

Realistically Speaking

I’ve no desire
to reach
sainthood,

or beatifiedhood or
perfecthood or
blamelesshood,

Godhood, famoushood, allnicenesshood,
saviorhood, Allahood,
Buddhahood.

I just want
to be
good.

July 27, 2012

———————————————-

Reasons to jubilate
permeate. Celebrate
love!

July 25, 2012

———————————————-

If sleep were

pills, I’d

OD.

If food was

drugs, I

did.

July 19, 2012

_______________________________________

Today’s requisition:

water for calmness

under fire.

July 16, 2012

__________________________________

Freedom Means

I

can move

in molasses time

while

I make

up my mind.

Or

maybe, I’ll

make candy instead.

Sorry,

were you

waiting long? Have

some

sweets while

I take forever.

June 24, 2012

———————————————-

There

is more

than one truth.

June 18, 2012

———————————————-

Sometimes

I’m tired

as late-autumn leaves.

June 16, 2012

———————————————-

Mouth Full

You

write more than

I can

chew.

June 11, 2012

———————————————-

Laboratory

Take

your little

experiments somewhere else.

I’m

not your

Guinea pig, pigs.

June 6, 2012

———————————————-

Recognition

I’m
not I
am who am.

 __________________________

Progress
I mature fast
as paint

peels.

June 2, 2012

———————————————-

*Condemnation

Union Institute,
my desire
is

you descend in
financial fire,
into

the Gehenna you
damned us
to.

No hatred, no
threat. Just
justice.

May 22, 2012

*Union Institute is a scam school that ripped me, the government and you, the taxayers, off. See more about them here. 

———————————————-

APA

Apologies
for discrediting
your diagnoses. DSM

digs
deep in
dry dirt, touching

crumbling
stones. “Ah!
Let’s get some

glue,
put pebbles
together, name our

new
pet rocks,
paint them dark

colors,
bury them
in her heart.”

Katherine Gotthardt

May 18, 2012

———————————————-

Circus

I’ve
never talked
to a mime,

but
once, a
pink nosed clown,

acne
poking through
his makeup, asked

me
for my
phone number. I

laughed.
His mouth
didn’t even twitch.

Katherine Gotthardt
Draft 1

May 17, 2012

———————————————-

 

Cure
 
Do not silence
your life.
Disregard

fears of tonsillitis,
laryngitis, infection.
Sing.

Sing what is,
what was,
what

isn’t. Trill your
years. Match
pitch

with decades, tone
with seasons.
Entice

octaves with each
drink of ice
water,

followed by spoons
of soup.
Sip.

Hear how clear
your truth
sounds?

Katherine Gotthardt
Draft 1

May 16, 2012

This poem first appeared in New Departures.

———————————————-

Change of Life

This
body heat–
take it off,

strip
me back
to a cooler

self,
one sans
the sweats, salt

stinging
my face
like adolescent shame.

May 15, 2012

Draft 1

 

———————————————-

Word Capture

I’m

too tired

to prove I’m

not a robot.

Damn those

spammers.

———————————————-

Petrified

 

“You’ve got some
serious stones,”
I

said to my
friend the
gravedigger.

 

May 11, 2012

_________________________

Pain
in the
neck is real.

February 8, 2012
———————————————-
Kitchens
cost more
than a house.

February 8, 2012
———————————————-
Walruses
ate her
teeny, weeny bikini.

February 8, 2012
———————————————-
Headbands
hurt only
a little while.

February 8, 2012
———————————————-
His
wedding band,
shiny and cold.

Katherine Gotthardt

February 8, 2012

______________________

How
do I
love thee? Agape.

February 11, 2012
______________________
Sad
journal, replaced
by a blog.

February 11, 2012
______________________

Quick
poetry, cup
of instant coffee.

February 11, 2012
______________________
Thick
lipped snow
French kissing windows.

February 11, 2012
______________________
When
did you
punch that wall?

Katherine Gotthardt

February 11, 2012

_________________________

This
old cat
meowing all night.

February 16, 2012
_________________________
Getting
up still
wins first prize.

Katherine Gotthardt

February 16, 2012

_________________________

Ears
screaming rings.
Can’t you hear?

February 28, 2012

________________________

Now’s

the end

of the line.

February 28, 2012

___________________________

I
posted, “Abusers
need not apply.”

March 2, 2012

___________________________

I’d like to
pull a van Gogh
on both ears.

March 10, 2012

(not quite Haynaku)

___________________________

Hey

stupids.  It’s

not about sex.

March 11, 2012

___________________________

Sometimes

I get

a lot rebellious.

March 11, 2012

___________________________

I

keep on

losing my.…

March 11, 2012

___________________________

I

told you,

throw that out.

March 11, 2012

___________________________

These

pills. The

look you give.

March 11, 2012

___________________________

As

if I’d

ever say “if.”

March 11, 2012

___________________________

Write

till I

die, dear friend.

March 11, 2012

___________________________

Maybe

it’s more

that you’re present.

March 11, 2012

___________________________

If

you love

me, cough twice.

March 11, 2012

___________________________

You’ll
never reach
the invisible me.

March 13, 2012

—————–

Yesterday,

I forgot

my own poem.

March 21, 2012

—————–

The

real mystery,

a lost shoe.

March 21, 2012

—————–

No

such guide

as a syllabus.

March 21, 2012

—————–

Polish

is for

furniture and hearts.

March 21, 2012

—————–

Why

does she

love that pain?

March 21, 2012

—————–

What’s

worse? Dead

bodies or cancer?

Why

not write

about milkweed fluff?

March 21, 2012

—————–

Alice’s

rabbit rushes

us to anxiety.

March 21, 2012

—————–

Daylight

savings cannot

save a thing.

March 21, 2012

—————–

I

saw no

souls in pennies.

Katherine Gotthardt

March 21, 2012

—————–

Sorting

old messages,

old lives, lies.

Your

fear. Your

racism. Your call.

Yes.

A course

in human events.

Frozen

still, your

scales of justice.

Katherine Gotthardt

Copyright March 22, 2012

———————————–

In dependence

Please

understand. Your

love is desperation.

My

love is

somewhere with God.

You

mistake me

for salvation. Don’t.

Katherine Gotthardt

Copyright March 31, 2012

—————–

Asking

why often

executes a conversation.

April 1, 2012

  —————–

Haynaku Disconnected

I

clip you,

like a coupon.

Always,

you are

the stranger. Good.

My

memory is

your memory. Goodbye.

My

last piece

of hair, weeping.

April 2, 2012

  —————–

Remember me. I
am not
free.

April 5, 2012

  —————–

I put you
somewhere. Now
where?

I sometimes lose
things I
choose.

But you’re little
more than
metaphor.

April 7, 2012
—————–

What things I
give you
always.

Indulged,
you pretend
to love me.

How stupidly I
offer my
all.

April 7, 2012

_____________________

Not Haynaku

Indictment 

Father, I’ve grown,
eating my way
into ugliness.
Did I please you?

April 9, 2012

_____________________

Reminder

The sun also
rises, my
child.

April 10, 2012

_____________________

Alice’s Caterpillar 

This thing you think
you love
is not me.
Who are you?

April 10, 2012


Gifts I Receive from Felons

 

My
adult students
draw me pictures.

April 11, 2012

_____________________

Hourglass

“Hasten

your fall,”

Gravity tells sand.

April 17, 2012

_________________________________

 Año de Muerto

 

aquí

must be

the death year.

gracias

por todos,

everything I love.

solicitud:

be my

backyard perennial flower?

April 20, 2012

________________________

 

End of the Line

 

What
fantasy
can I chase

next
when my
mind has closed?

April 20, 2012

________________________

 Taking the Bullet

I
know my
value. Do you?

Tell
me, what
are your values?

Would
you die
for me, too?

April 20, 2012

_____________________

Take
little literally.
I’m mostly metaphor.

April 23, 2012
_____________________

Critics
are loud
crickets. Shut up.

April 23, 2012
_____________________

Editors
edit. Writers
write. Let’s fight.

April 23, 2012
_____________________

One-way
thoughts drive
the others away.

April 23, 2012

 _____________________ 

 

Advice

Don’t
waste water
on the dead.

____________________

Every

season turns

on its heel.

April 23, 2012

____________________

I

polished your

nails, not mine.

April 23, 2012

____________________

Gratitude

is why

I stayed alive.

April 23, 2012

____________________

Is

bile some

kind of spice?

April 23, 2012

____________________

A

naughty night

owl ate it.

April 23, 2012

____________________

Love

fell off

the kitchen counter.

April 23, 2012

____________________

I’m

older now.

No napping allowed?

April 23, 2012

_____________________________

Hope
might be feathers,
but art
is made of wings.

April 24, 2012

__________________

No

fingers left,

you reached

for me.

April 24, 2012

__________________

My

heart can

only cry blood.

April 24, 2012

__________________

I noticed

your mind

is usually

off-white.

April 24, 2012

__________________

My

wrist, punctured

by a watch.

April 24, 2012

__________________

Snub

your toes

and you’ll fall.

April 24, 2012

__________________

Eyelash

in your

pizza. You swallowed.

April 24, 2012

__________________

Light

the oven.

Watch your hand.

April 24, 2012

__________________

Your

pollen halts

my very breath.

April 24, 2012

__________________

Objection

Dissenters

are classy

rebels. Screw you.

April 26, 2012

___________________

Closing

its eyes,

this sun. Goodnight.

April 26, 2012

___________________

Meek

and poor

are blessed? Whew!

April 26, 2012

___________________

Bras

burnt, I’m

left here hanging.

April 26, 2012

___________________

Punch

stains my

best white dress.

April 26, 2012

___________________

Young

smile, old

hair, eternal heart.

April 26, 2012

___________________________

Job Description

Here, my ears

bleed red

tape.

May 1, 2012

___________________________

Prayer for Cosmo

Kitty,

I see

your time approaches.

I

extend heart,

hands, to painlessness.

Love

means returning

you to Earth.

May 6, 2012

___________________________

Hurt’s Final Destination

Hurt
is only
a badly torn

skirt:
resolve to
throw it away.

Knot
the trash
bag, leave it

on
the curb.
Allow the pros

to
take it
somewhere to decompose.

_______________________

 A Spot of Tea

Instant

coffee, tea,

absolutely, not me.

You

need sugar,

cream, not me.

Scald

yourself with

water, not me.

May 8, 2012

___________________________

I discovered this lovely form via writer Leigh Giza, to whom I am indebted.

  • *Invented by poet Eileen Tabios, who is also publisher, Meritage Press.
  • Officially inaugurated on the Web on June 12th, 2003 (Philippine Independence Day).
  • The form spread through the Web to poets all over the world.
  • Eileen Tabios initially called the form “the Pinoy Haiku”.
  • Vince Gotera proposed the name “hay(na)ku”, and this name has stuck. This corresponds to a Tagalog phrase that means roughly “Oh!” or (in Spanish) “Madre mía”.
  • The last syllable is pronounced “ai” (silent aitch, like Cockneys would say it).

In a traditional Hay(na)ku, there are:

  • A tercet: 3 lines.
  • A total of 6 words: 1 in the first line, 2 in the second line, and 3 in the third line.
  • There is no restriction on syllables or stressed or rhymes.

Variations:

  • In the ‘reverse’ haynaku, the longest line is placed first and the shortest last. The total is still 6 words: 3 in the first line, 2 in the second line, and 1 in the third line.
  • Multiple hay(na)ku can be chained to form a longer poem.

http://www.baymoon.com/~ariadne/form/haynak