Midtown

Every Saturday I go to church.
It’s not what you think.
My non-traditional tradition, this ritual,
Calling me each week.
I could sleep in, but no–
I am pulled to be there
in community with this particular congregation,
To receive the blessings it offers me.
There are no pews, but tables in a U-shape, chairs,
No pulpit but a microphone passed around
No altar but a box of paper prompts,
Our communion is our writing,
words scribbled in notebooks,
Then read aloud, no matter how profane
Or tender, absurd or banal.
The sharing makes it nothing less than holy.
This sacred passion we share for words, books, writing,
Intensifies as we gather, emboldens us to grow,
Makes us more than we might be praying
with our pens in our rooms alone.

Every week we write it, minutes at a time. The gospel according to me, to you.
All true, none of it true, so help me God.

Poems From Last Weekend

Numbing the Hand

Warm hands, warm heart
Cold hands, warm heart
Numb hands, numb heart.

The hand that feeds
Is numb to your desires.
The desires of the heart
Are not felt in the outer extremities.

A rose with thorns
Leaves no sting on numb hands.
The companionship of held hands
Numbed.

Numb hands, numb heart.

 

Love Is Something So Divine

Love is something so divine
That it overlooks these numb hands of mine.
No ice melt water or slushy churn
Can halt me from the unflinching burn
Of that passionate halo – Love.

 

In Dreams You Appeared

In dreams you appeared
In flammable seaweed
Walking to shore with a cigarette in hand.

You light your cigarette
Setting yourself and all the shoreline on fire.

You represent the oil spill of my life
Contaminating my essence
Destroying the love that is divine.

The Crackdown

Work, bus, drugs, arrests, drink, and
struggle
and no good music anywhere.

And the young male press
says the crackdown on us is coming.

I say we’ll crack ourselves
before they ever get here
if we are not too careful.
They step over us
to avoid their mother’s backs.

Don’t walk alone
they shake their heads
they say say say
all sorts of stupid things,
but they do not say
how to get cabs with money
that stays in the rich man’s pocket.

We each walk alone
Needs must for the lazy (they say say say)
mother
because the late shift pays more.

We rest at last in rooms
behind the hardware store
through the alley
where our children sleep
in streetlight light
that shines
through thin curtains.

Copyright Kay Winter

Perpetua in Carthage

I, martyr to dust.

I, traveler with slaves
to beasts.

I, rejecter of the babe
my father brought
aching for my breast,

asking me:

“Do you see the space
where you will not be?”

I who was silent.

He asked me:
“What can this space be called by?”

I, who answered:
“I cannot be called anything
other than what I am.”

I, who dreamt of the serpent
I, who dreamt of my slave sisters
I, who dreamt of fighting my way
through the dark door into the light.

I, who brought Felicity singing
to the wild heifer.

I, whose collarbone caught
the executioner’s knife.

I, who caught his hand
and drew the knife
through my neck.

I, who would not be denied.

Copyright Kay Winter

The holiday

The holidays always come faster than you think

and then they are here and you almost want them to go away

it seems to be a reminder of what you’ve lost

of the memories that once were

and the people no longer with you.

Today I have a family

but it’s not my family from birth

I try and be joyful

but I am sad.

One day

maybe things will feel differently

but until then

I celebrate for being alive

when once I thought I wouldn’t see another year.

The Glass Cutter

January, cold and bleak, the shore again imprisoned,
The lake, the house, the memory, the dream I once envisioned.
Neither animals nor I ever heard the metal snap,
Crimson blood on pristine snow, fooled by a father’s trap.

There were schools, Father said, down in Thunder Bay.
If he didn’t bring me, they could take me anyway.
I am métis, from the North, I am neither here nor there.
I didn’t understand their laws, and I didn’t really care.

He ignored my mother’s pleading cries,
Made it clear there was no compromise.
Family had become a burden, his was a trapper’s life instead.
He harnessed up the dogs, filling me with dread.

Father took me to the boarding school and told me to obey.
They would teach me to be white, to read and write and pray.
Cardinals appear to us when a loved one passes o’er,
I saw the Cardinal that day in all his red-robed splendor.

I learned his Catechism, I learned to read and write,
And what the Cardinal prefers when he calls for me at night.
I was scared and broken.  I hid the fear and bleeding.
I looked for solace in the moon, as my ache began receding.

Star shine danced upon the snow and it beckoned me with light,
The flakes like fractured bits of glass called me forth into the night.
Winter into spring, then with summer on the way
I said a word to no one, I just walked away one day

Many nights the sky was graced by northern lights displays,
A Superior reflection all the way to Grand Marais.
Electric hues that lit the sky, arching pinks and greens
Like a whispering collection of colored figurines.

I came to stay in Grand Marais, a quiet little place,
For in that pine-draped sleepy town, I found my saving grace.
A man of silence, skill and sight, a man whose name was Kirk,
A glass cutter by trade, he explained to me his work.

Church window panes, he said, as he cut and cracked the glass,
As he soldered the lead, to make it worthy of High Mass.
He fused the light together, he captured colors of the sun.
He created brilliance, love, and beauty, for the Father and the Son.

The colored hues inside me bled, like a prism in my veins,
Planted where the flame had fed, then purified by rain.
There must have been a reason our lives had intertwined,
Where colors come together, white light starts to shine.

Through Kirk I came to see small shards of redemption.
Patterned after love and hope, and nurtured with attention.
Like a cathedral calls us home, Kirk had shone a light,
And my dark and withered soul found colors in the night.

copyright Dec 2016
by csherar