Edge of the edge

Years before this happened
Before the storm
When the moon looked down for the first time
The endless sky knew this journey

I drive on through the night
Toward the edge of dawn

This edge: the edge of the end

This edge: just before the edge of the beginning

With the black ink map
I mark each hour against the night
I mark each star as falls into an empty space
I wonder if the moon itself will break into pieces
Before I arrive.

I drive on
waiting for the world to move me
into a wide prairie space
where I can run into the tall grasses
to the others arriving
We have come so far, we say.

Copyright Kay Winter


Jamie: They told me you’re the one to see.

Rory: They did?

Jamie: Yea.

Rory: (looks at finger nails, furrows eyebrows) Um, okay then.  It’s nice to see you…. Again.

Jamie: If you don’t want to.

Rory: No, no.  I’m sorry, I must be coming across as terribly rude.  Pease come in.  Have a seat.  Sorry about the mess.  Let me clear the nice chaise for you.  I haven’t had a guest in 4 months you know.  I’ve been taking this quaranting pretty seriously.  It’s definitely weird to see my neighbors and what seems like the rest of the world resuming their normal lives, while here I am.  Alone in this humble townhouse. 

Jamie: Oh, I’m sorry.  I didn’t bring a mask.  I should go.  How insensitive of me, visiting you unexpectedly, without a mask.

Rory: It’s really okay.  Come on in.  I’ll sit over here on the other side of the room.  We’ll be fine.  Can I get you something to drink?  I don’t have much—the grocery store is out of everything you know.  I have filtered water.  Lactose-free milk.  You know, I think I saw a couple beers in the back of the fridge.

Jamie: Oh, I don’t want to impose.

Rory: Beers.  I’ve been saving them for a special occasion.  My first guest in four months?  I would say this is it!  I can’t drink alone you know.  That’s frowned upon in my family.  Sit down, sit down.  I’ll be right back.

(Rory leaves the room while Jamie sits on the chaise.  Rory comes back with two beers, and hands one to Jamie then sits on the other side of the room.)

Rory: So, Jamie, tell me, why exactly Sue sent you here?

(Jamie laughs nervously.)

Jamie: I’m embarrassed to say, honestly. 

(Jamie takes a gulp of beer.)

Rory: Oh, don’t be shy.  We’ve known each other since we were in kindergarten…. Sue and I.  She knows me better than anyone, so if she told you to see me, there must be a very good reason.

(Jamie takes another large gulp of beer and sighs deeply, brushing his hands through his hair.)

Jamie: It’s just, well. 

Rory: It’s okay, Jamie, you can tell me anything.

Jamie: I think I saw an alien.

(Rory gulps her beer silently.)

Rory: A what?

Jamie: An alien.

Rory: I see.

(Rory looks out the window nervously, and then walks to her door to lock it.  She leans forward, inquisitively.)

Jamie: I was asleep and awoke to a strange noise.  I don’t know if a noise is even a way to describe it.  It was more of like a frequency in my ears… like a dog whistle or something, that somehow I was attuned to.  It was a harsh yet subtle simultaneous.  An instant feeling of doom initially overtook me, followed quickly by curiosity.

(Jamie takes a sip of beer.)

Jamie: Of course, I thought it was a dream at first.  Of course it was.  I know it’s likely we aren’t alone in this universe as there are so many planets similar to earth, but I also know how completely impossible it would be for any living being to travel so far as to end up here.  Obviously it was a dream.  And so I let the fear run its course through me and waited to wake up.

(Jamie takes another sip of beer.)

Jamie: But then I didn’t wake up.  I was up all night.  And then I heard the same noise-like thing the next day, in the middle of the day, while I was sitting at the computer, working.  Then the next night, and day.  I concluded it wasn’t a dream, and instead assumed I was just having some sort of issue with my ear.  All those years playing in that metal band, you know, probably my tinnitus getting worse or something.  So I set up a virtual appointment with my doctor to get it checked out.  The soonest appointment they had was a month out.

And the noise kept happening, more and more frequently.  I ignored it.  But then, one night, accompanying the noise, there was something outside my window.  I’ve never been more sure of it in my life.  I called Sue right away, expecting her to assume I had lost my mind.  But she got very grave.  Very scared sounding.  And she told me to see you, right away.  I got in the car, haven’t showered yet, sorry about that, haven’t shaved.

Rory: It’s okay.  I understand.  Look, you aren’t safe there.  Frankly, you’re not safe here either.  I know what you can do though.  I know where you can go.  I have a place, specifically for this event.  I never thought it’d happen in my lifetime.  I’ve been sending messages out since I graduated college 30 years ago.  Ritually sending transmitters, radio waves, light signals, optimistically waiting for the day we’d get a signal back, from …. Them.

Jamie: Them?

Rory: Yea, the Ginthernians.

Jamie: The Ginthernians?

Rory: Yes, from the planet Ginthertron.  It’s just in our neighboring galaxy.  I knew there was life there.  And I knew they were smart.  Look, I’ll explain to you more later about my life’s research.  Trust me, we are going to have lots of time together.  Follow me… to the basement.  I have just the place that will keep you safe.

Jamie: Can we take these with us?  (Jamie holds up his beer.)

Rory: Yes, we’re definitely going to need those.

<to be continued…>

The Last Swim

On the last day of summer
I swim out from the lake shore
in the violet approach of evening
Below a dust and violet sky.


Past the noise of the beach
Past the inner buoys
Pulling, breathing
Past the outer buoys
Face into the waterline
with each turned breath


I pause
Turn up
Look back


The lights on the beach are on
against a marbled sky.
A few slow headlights
circle the shore.


In the west,
the sky is orange
The fires are burning


I’ll stay out here,
for awhile
face up to the approaching night
and whatever storm may blow across.


I’ll wait for stars
And I’ll wait the moon to rise.


I’ll imagine of a lake so clear
with fresh rain
that the moonlight shines
to the sandy bottom.


A lake so lost
that the moon stays half
For months on end.



Copyright Kay Winter

Let this year be different

Let this year be different.

Let the front steps

Let the windowboxes

Stay empty of impatiens

Empty of vines.

Improvise each hour as it washes over us


Let this year be different.

Let the café

Let the theater

Let the fields

Be empty of voices

Empty of players.

Improvise each place as the echoes wash over us.


Let this year be different.

Let the streets

Let the parks

Let the bridges

Be filled with the young ones

Be filled with their magic and anger and hope

Amid the clouds of poison and history.


Let his year be different.

Love them kneeling

Love them on the bridges at midnight

Arms raised

Calling down their power

Calling down our love

To change the river’s direction

To make the river answer them.


Do what you can for them

Do what you can with them

Even with your one finger

through the eye of the needle

touching Eden.


Copyright Kay Winter


Fear and Clocks

Time time time



Every day an envelope arrives

to be opened only by you.

Time runs a slow and swift course

through fear and clocks.

We are calendars waiting

for good news.

Framed in our doorways.

Framed in our windows.

Waiting for the envelop to arrive

with good news.


it says.

But it is empty.

Waiting itself

for us to put hope


-Copyright Kay Winter


Lisa flipped the eggs over on her beat-up cast iron skillet. She had become accustomed to cooking meals for one since the state ordered a shelter-in-place two months ago.

She closed her eyes and inhaled as the cracked pepper emanated through her tiny kitchen.

She imagined Craig, the grocery store clerk, in the kitchen with her, making small talk. Craig was the only human face she had seen since the whole community locked themselves in their homes. She and Craig didn’t conversate or anything. Their only interaction was the hand off of a credit card as she stood behind a rope, six feet between them.

But she looked forward to his warm smile. His tired eyes. His messed up hair.

She couldn’t judge his age from six feet away but imagined he was in his 30s, easily 10 years younger than her. In normal life, it would be a weird crush.

Before the quarantine, she never really dated much. Her three cats kept her swell enough company. She was an only child and quite accustomed to living and entertaining herself alone.

She practiced social distancing long before it was mandated by the government.

She had accepted that a romantic relationship was unlikely in the cards for her.

And yet. Suddenly. In such an odd time. She couldn’t wipe this stranger, with “Craig” stenciled on his name tag, out of her mind. Craig.

She plotted how things would be different for her when this was all over. She vowed to finally put herself out there. Maybe even go to a bar. Or try online dating.

She knew it wouldn’t be Craig, specifically, but it didn’t matter. She could find her Craig.

A Craig to sit and make small talk while she cooked her eggs.

A Craig who wasn’t allergic to cats.

A Craig who, like the grocery store cashier, was brave, in whatever mundane way that might translate to normal life when this was all over.

She poured the eggs on a plate and sat down on her frail, wooden chair, shoo’ing her cat off the table. Tomorrow was Thursday.

Thursday morning arrived, and the sun rose through her dusty blinds. Lisa sat up, her heart pounding. She showered, a long one this morning. She applied full make up. Straightened her hair. Brushed her teeth. Extra mouthwash. Put on a dress.

It was grocery day.

She jaunted out the door, a new wave of life swelling through her.

The store was busy, but everyone kept their distance. The shelves were picked over, so she grabbed what she could from her elderly neighbor’s lists.

Craig’s line was the longest, each person six feet from the next in line. But she picked that line anyway.

Twenty minutes later, it was her turn. Her heart pounded. She felt light-headed. Her hand extended. Craig’s brown eyes locked with hers for a split second. She blushed. She smiled warmly. She took the card back.

“Thank you,” Craig said, in a soothing baritone voice.

She grabbed the groceries and pranced out of the store, one hand holding the bags, the other on her heart.

She couldn’t wait until next Thursday.