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October 24, 2016 Poetry

Five Poems

Katie Mertz

Five Poems photo

Tiny Evolutions

okay so let’s talk
about the exes we mythologize
for the wrong reasons   like leave
a toothbrush at my bathroom sink
and call it love   and baby
I’ll promise ring your heart
to my heart and name you
in the spirit of a most perfect thing  
the dreams you have in that deep
sleep on your back  
the hands that reach for you 
do you want to kiss them
like I do   good news cake
is still cake after war   it’s not
bad luck to fold that favorite
photograph   I wasn’t drunk
when I cracked those eggs  
I’m watching the kids
with the plague in their hands
turn it over like a soft yolk
now knowing    it’s not a question
of intent whether or not
it makes its way to us  
I get sad thinking about fish
when homo erectus learned to swim  
I find a purple crayon
in a parking lot still intact
not everything is the miracle
you asked for


I am thinking about process
how to spend my time

and not be afraid
deciding how I feel about pain

and going through
then going through

the sun our greatest antique
and I am hiding

in a closed room eating snacks
throwing money at a cool grape

fine for a little while
choosing bees over all other

short-lived creatures
look how incapable I am

to speak casually about death
every day I learn more

of my body to worry for yet
tinker most with the unwalked path

and it feels good

a bear could yield
a farm if not for hunger

a tree will grow through rock
if it finds no other way

the line between two points
is not always straight

sometimes just one wind
and another


let’s talk about birds
not this crisis not how
there’s debt for a reason
not how we hang from it

like empty coats
I am growing
one existential moment
after another

and I can’t tell
is this grief puddled
in the street or am I
just a woman

holding your wrist
once a beating yes
quite full after dinner
now mother the sick muscle

I keep pulling at
this womb ornament
in my starchy middle
when is what if

not a reckless body
when is it too much?
keep trying
you told me

when I couldn’t stand
this tarp around
my heart is it a ghost
or just calloused

what do you call
the ones who forgive you
what do you call
the ones who don’t

Rebuilding the Titanic

  “Australian Billionaire to Rebuild the Titanic
   for 2016 Maiden Voyage.”
         -International Business Times, 24 February 2013

creation only a myth of the hands I beat
my chest   take my fists and push them deep

reaching for the manual that says how
this thing should work   look at me   so tidy

by accident   no purpose but to exist long enough
to know nothing is for sure   for instance

it is not impossible a black hole should puke
a ball of matter   that a desert should riot

a million yellow flowers   that building a boat
or horse or lover and naming it UNSINKABLE

gives any guarantee   nevermind   I’m breeding
my ponies for a quiet tired crying   feeding a habit

of putting water places I don’t need it   I want
that heat   a glacial narrative to maintain and lay

my face against when I wake up too warm
and kick off my socks   there are other distances

to busy the hands with   we a people so prone
to devastating   take me   the honeybee too drunk

on an unexpected yellow field   even rebuilt
we are not the same   will not   can never be

Ocean Between the Waves

what does it mean to say I am pulling my own weight     that I find breath for some seconds in a day and consider this an accomplishment or the avocado my stomach quietly accepts a reward   I made these breasts to hide a reckless heart    my magic sits in a cold clean light   in the thick of it so easy to forget where   I forget   I feel a laughter impulse and let it pass   I consume every color with no apparent thrill and yet keep eating  I come up empty yet continue casting   two and three lines   that one song on a long-distance car ride   I listen   my hands buried in a sweet dough melting the butter pulling blood oranges into individual segments just to kiss them away   you catch me often in this book looking  you ask why have I spent so many hours under a pink sky    on this beach holding my weight only to sweat it off later   the wind dies and drops my hair to my back   standing before the ocean    I can’t fathom forever


image: Aaron Burch