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New Poetry, Fiction, Essays

 5 poems by Ken Cathers

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Born (1951) and raised in Ladysmith on Vancouver Island. Has  a B.A. from the University of Victoria and a M.A.  from York Universityin Toronto. Was a senior Pulp Operator at Harmac Pacific Pulp Mill on Vancouver Island. Has been published in numerous periodicals, anthologies as well as six  books of poetry,  most recently Missing Pieces on Ekstasis Press. Married since 1971 to his wife Inge. Has two sons, Jason and Devon,as well as three grandchildren.


he was crazy

he was crazy.
should have guessed
but I was young

wanted to believe
every lie
he told me.

was taught
to trust
no one

watch my back.
an education
of sorts

how to fight
dirty, steal
break anything.

but he could
name the stars,
trees, knew

stories of pirates,
gypsies  &  I
loved the idea

of him, wanted
just once
to be good enough
to be told

be tough enough
to take what
the world dished out

face up to
the blame, the dicks
the toadies. . .

all his lessons
I tried so hard
to learn
before I knew
he was crazy, had
failed everything

been broken
in so many ways.


offering

& you saved it
for me , knew
how much

I loved
useless things.

the design &
proportion perfect,
scuffed patina

of loss, glossed over
with continuous
worry.

see what can be
made of it
you said

another story
without purpose,

the insult there
in the way
you phrased it,

another beautiful
thing put aside
an offering of love

to be worked
over  & inevitably
thrown away

 

arrangements

1

she had no idea
it would be
this bad. the in-laws

against her
from the start
found nothing right
to like.

inadequate   for
promises made
in some far country.

she has come
as payment, already
feels whispers weave

malice
into every sideways
glance.

what a maze
the world is.

no one told her
he would be
this cold. inflict

his blunt private
silence. he stands
apart, back turned

in a ceremony
unrehearsed.

arrangements

2

on the plane
she pulls threads
from her dress

unravelling everything
left behind

will arrive in tatters
a new skin
grown like lace

will follow
her husband’s brother
through the first dance

at her own wedding.
the smell of him
as he carefully

steps on her feet
exacting a kind
of payment

& she thinks
there is no chance now
of getting away

never was

 

the cure

I was the one
you cured. thanks
to you

I could walk,
see again, recite
the alphabet
backwards.

I was your two-
legged endorsement,
gushed testimonials,
implied magic.

with you one felt
divine luminescence
near.

there was a time
I believed, revived
my cure
on cue:

the seized palsy,
spastic collapse,
a brief dance across the stage
perhaps.

it was a tedious role.
&  every time
the pain  came back.

 

blur

I knew it was a mistake
before I got on, the bike
too big for these half
gravel roads

no place for a hard-tail Harley.
climb on he said   &
I wanted to be him
fearless. . .

not even a seat, just
a bracket   & I hung on
as he hit 3 gears

the front wheel not touching
down once   & I just hung on
already blind   the world a blur
past his shoulder

& I was sure he wouldn’t
forget   the dead corner
coming up   no hope
of making it

back hunched   he leans forward
can’t hear what I’m yelling
along for the ride   he cranks
the throttle wide open

the hill straight down, suicide
dive   & there is no way out
dead if I let go, leaned over

so far the foot pegs spray
sparks across the dirt siding
helpless   as the back wheel slides

& there is always nothing
I can do, know I will once
again  drive the bike faster

cannot hold back, become
the bike   that winds out
past redline, brakes gone
as I look back

yell  hold on kid  as
the road disappears  & we soar
suspended   for one brief moment

in the cold night air

 

 

 

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