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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A Christmas Love Poem

Love is like playing telephone.
You remember, don’t you,
connecting two tin cans with a thin wire?
The concept was there, but it’s hard
to carry words through thin air
and have them translate correctly.
The metal gets in the way.

If I had money, I’d buy you a phone
for Christmas. Not a cheap one like mine.
Something with all the gadgets you use.
No contract required. If it breaks,
we find a way to fix it ourselves.

But for now, we’re stuck with cans.
Please don’t cut the cord.

-Katherine Gotthardt


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One Foot Away

It’s because
you tickle me
when you wink.

I’m not sure
what to think
of your playfulness,
your player-ness –
painless or audacious?

I just know as I go
to sleep, you sneak in,
and I hide you.
Like contraband.

Katherine Gotthardt
Copyright 2016

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Dearest Friend,

I apologize for leaving you
alone for so long,
wondering if my wandering
had anything to do with you.
I’m so sorry. It did.

I admit, I couldn’t look
your illness in the face,
the way your lipstick
slinks away now, guiltily
avoiding your medicated breath,
leaving a smear on your upper lip,
as if it skidded in last minute haste.

You see, cancer smells a certain way.
It’s not quite like death, but more
like withering. IV be damned.
You’ll shrivel, dry, disappear
into unknown at any moment,
quite possibly in front of me
as I hold too tightly
onto your crumbling hand.

You see, I am afraid.

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More Poetry for the Muse

Muse: the goddess or the power regarded as inspiring a poet, artist, thinker, or the like.

It’s when I am half asleep
that the words fall out,
like potatoes from a broken bag.

The plastic can’t contain them.
The whites of their eyes stare
at my insignificance compared
to the fervor of your words,

the crazy acts you inspire,
the way you warm me,
making me perfectly edible.  

copyright 2015

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You agreed
to be my muse,

not knowing
what that meant,

how my sleepy Bengal
will lick his paws

and read the poetry
you inspire.

He’ll hear my keys
being tapped

by my cracked nails,
and the thumping

of my leg
against my desk

(because I can’t seem
to sit still, ever)

as I think about
the planet, the way

the world juggles
its people and their

twitching cities,
the way this

God thing gets
under my skin,

the moment I met you,
the second I forgot you,

the eloquent eulogies
I plan for my funeral,

the stupid things
I contemplate:

the tall drinking glass
that doesn’t shine anymore,

the lemon oil
I add to my water,

the spiral bound book,
the calculator,

the business cards,
the brooch,

the ounce
of protection

I might have
given myself

had I not asked
you to be mine.

March 21, 2015

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Forty years later,
your face like a quince,
mouth puckered where
stem connects to twig,
your smile an indent.

I wanted to write a poem for you,
(men make such good muses)
because I remember our kiss.
I still think of it,
like I think of trees
waving their lovely hands
in a young breeze.
Passion is part of the myth.

But now, you’re a knotted branch,
last light of beauty in your eyes.
I touch the thin skin
of your cheek,
and I sigh.

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Loss is a lake
frozen black,
like a smile
for half a mile,
skaters falling
through its
cracked teeth,
down the throat
of winter water
into the stomach
of sand, sediment
and rusty soda cans,
way beneath
the reach of rope
or a stick
from the shoreline’s
weeping willow.
Who is that
I hear wailing?

Katherine Gotthardt
copyright March 1, 2015