Kathleen Winter is the author of two poetry collections, I will not kick my friends, winner of the 2017 Elixir Poetry Prize, and Nostalgia for the Criminal Past, which received the 2013 Texas Institute of Letters first book award. She was granted fellowships from the Dobie Paisano Ranch; Dora Maar House; James Merrill House; Cill Rialaig Retreat, and Vermont Studio Center. She won the 2014 Rochelle Ratner Memorial Award, judged by Brenda Hillman, and the 2016 Poetry Society of America Emily Dickinson Award. She teaches at Sonoma State University.
My Port Aransas
My ultramarine fevers, triggers, was it errors? My incessant pumpjacks,
rubber-footed divers, polychrome dividers, birthstones
of faceted glass. My autoimmune shivers, spineless jellyfish endeavors, horse-
head levers, my depthless, my lakes glittering of spillage, skimmed
with liquid plumage leaked in profit’s homage,
my (& her) blurry petrol rainbow in the boat’s bow
underlying atmospheres of chemical diffusion sandwiching
the dolphinated channel: torpid, ferry-stitched, crepuscular
—my fuchsia-swollen teenage moon misfiring
to defy it all.
A Trait of Certain Ambassadors
One burnt-orange leg
of the plush bull waves
from a shelf above the nurse’s station:
hello? goodbye? We’ve chosen our favorite
snowflakes, they are the same one,
a paper rotor of pagodas taped
to the wide window
between treatment room
and waiting room; we’re waiting
in the treatment room for more
to sift into our ears, doctors’ voices
now delicate, regretful;
amid the beeping of IVs my dad’s
as I read aloud about Kanzi, the talking
bonobo, whose caged life we pause
for a moment, together, to grieve.
How the Soul Discharges its Passions on False Objects when the True are Wanting
Hello from pioneers’ Idaho. Hello from the Land of Was,
where a stubbed toe could lead to gangrene, and you were
a thing to marry.
Hello from our pharmacy in the fields, weeds only women
knew, a way out.
Hell was a destination restaurant for demons
and you didn’t ever mean to get there, but neither did you
want to be the single parent of a bastard child.
Most efficient herbs are bitter. Assert themselves like a spoonful
of vinegar invades the cup of water.
You grow tired
of asserting your self, tired of that question: What did you say?
Hello from this hole behind the sun gone black, hello from inside
a halo the moon allows to leak over an anxious nation.
I don’t believe that heaven is as interesting
as the President’s tax records will be, if God or justice ever
lets us see them.
Trying to Care and Not Caring
A net made of light
on the bottom of the lap pool catches
at my heels, which move too slowly
through the innumerable molecules.
What a stillness this year has been. Windless.
Saltless. A plain, a white noise
like the sound of his planer maiming wood.
Would that I could be excited by a shrub,
by DIY-anything, the discrete charm
of backyard hens.
I faintly remember music, can’t lift a finger to play.
My freckles have faded;
all my whites are grey.
He’s talking but I’m falling asleep,
I’m talking as I’m falling asleep—
I want to be a child: braid my hair.
Tell me impossible stories
Send me down the block
with loose change,
don’t think of me again
till after dark.