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


Leave a comment

Shower

I love the way you run your fingers 
through your hair, lean back 
in your chair and drink tea 
out of a Mason jar. I find
the way you can’t sit still endearing,
the way you tap your pen, gesture,
talk about idiots, cussing nonchalantly.
Step it up a notch: I might even adore you. 
But please, don’t use the “T” word.
You know what I mean.

“Trust” isn’t something I lend
like a new book you know damn well
will never be returned. It isn’t something
I save on my shelf, waiting to give away.
It’s more like a person I don’t want to introduce.

You could try to find and kidnap him,
but that’s not how trust works. And besides,
there’s no way you can catch him:
Trust wears nondescript, gray blazers,
cuts his hair short, shines his shoes,
but not enough to draw attention.
He sits quietly in a cafe, sipping a latte,
looks at a laptop screen, pretending
there’s something interesting there.
He does not talk. He is a quiet observer,
an avid eavesdropper, an undercover agent.
Trust doesn’t go home to the wife and kids,
nor does he have a lover.
Trust travels alone.

Do I want to shower with you?
Are you fucking kidding me?

Katherine Gotthardt, copyright 2016


1 Comment

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


Leave a comment

anoesis

anoesis \an-oh-EE-sis\, noun:
A state of mind consisting of pure sensation or emotion without cognitive content

Because five years ago
I posted this “word
of the day” on Facebook,
I remembered this morning
how I’d discovered my appetite:
a hankering for an empty brain,
usually warning,
“possible pain ahead.”
I love when I ignore red flags.

The fact is, I also love love.
I discovered this in my thirties,
when I fell in love five or six times
and nothing really came of it
because I was already in love
and wasn’t willing to give that up.
Nothing here has changed.

More than fifteen year later,
you’d think I would have grown out of it,
but my pining for anoesis
remains, wet mouthed and empty.
Some Buddhist giggles,
reminding me that craving
is the origin of hurt.
Get rid of desire and peace follows.

But I am a crappy Buddhist.
The love I want would be so cerebral,
it would dissolve my mind
into nothing, and passion
would be all that remains.

I could tell you explicitly,
but what’s the point? No
one can offer what I long for,
I suck at mediation,
and masturbation is just stupid.

So here I am, sitting in the corner,
writing bad poetry and crying.
Okay, not quite crying – whining
like a dog wanting to go out
and roll in the dirt right after a bath.
Keep that door closed, please.

Katherine Gotthardt, Copyright 2016


Leave a comment

What Fear Looks Like

One would think
I’d have learned by now
not to get too close,

because once I do,
the next day
you back away

towards the other.
In one moment,
we’re near enough

to breathe each other’s breath.
I want to touch your face,
finger the rough edges

around your mouth
where you never
bother to shave,

run my tongue across your lips,
kiss your neck
where the base meets

your collarbone,
revel in the smell
of the oneness

you made me believe in,
put my hand on your chest,
feeling the t-shirt beneath,

hiding the heartbeat
I know is there,
pumping for someone else.

copyright 2016, Katherine Gotthardt


Leave a comment

Art Class

Some muses are better than others.
You, you’re pretty good,
and I don’t even need you naked.
I’m no artist in that sense, and besides,
I’d be mortified studying you
in front of a class.

I won’t describe your body here,
except to say I don’t
know anything about it
(other than what you show on Facebook,
and that’s just enough
to percolate intrigue
like a pot of dark, brewing coffee.
It smells so damn good).
Am I a bad person,
using you this way?

At least I told you. Sometimes
I don’t tell, don’t bother to ask,
not once nod in the direction
of inspiration. I’m sorry.
It hasn’t always been about you.

It’s about me and my writing
and how I’m so needy,
ordering out someone else’s energy
to quench the thirst
of my poet’s dry throat.

On the outside,
she’s a ridiculous middle-aged woman.
On the inside,
she sits in the front row
and marvels at your complexity
flexing in front of an analytical
group of parched hippies.

You’re too good for that.
May I be excused?


Leave a comment

Wretched

My head is spinning.
No, not from overthinking,
literally spinning from the inside.
It’s this damn tinnitus.
Gets me every time.

I’m going to barf.
I want to close my eyes
and sleep it off,
but it doesn’t work that way.
And since I’m so miserable,
I might as well write poetry
and tell you, no,
I’m not horny right now (maybe later)
and please, will you understand
what I’m looking for?

I’m not some aging whore
wanting to be thrown away.
I want us to last a few seasons,
find a reason to talk every day,
look you in the eye and say,
“My God, but I love you,”
and, “God help me, I love you.”

Go ahead now.
It’s your turn to barf.

copyright 2016, Katherine Gotthardt


Leave a comment

Aftermath

I don’t know.
The smell of your collarbone,
wild with life
and a pale coating
of musk cologne,
burrow their way
into my own
and stay there
for days, no matter
how much I shower.

I’m not trying
to wash it away.
No, my own odor
doesn’t say ardor
the way yours does,
and I am lonely with it,
there, in hot water,
with no help
because I cannot reach
the places you can.

I think I’m in trouble.

I think too much.
When you said, “Remember me,”
I took it too seriously.
Because when all you can do
is remember, it becomes
rumination, and the shrinks tell me
that’s not healthy.
So that’s me. Unhealthy.

So be it. So be it that memory
clasps hands with fantasy
and skips like a child
through some autumn field
where long weeds
looking like wheat
greet us up to our hips,
graze our fingertips,
smelling like love
and changing seasons.

I think I’m in trouble.

copyright 2016, Katherine Gotthardt