I live, write, and teach in Appleton, Wisconsin--about 35 miles south of the "frozen tundra." I am fascinated by good paper, poetry and the way ink moves forward on the blank page and words trail behind like a snake shedding its skin. Winner of the 2003 Main Street Rag Chapbook contest, I am the author of the collection A Theory of Lipstick (Main Street Rag: 2013) and seven chapbooks of poetry. Widely published (poetry, reviews and interviews), I was awarded a Pushcart Prize in 2011. www.karlahuston.com
I take this as a sign
that once a year, one
of my orchids blooms.
This one was saved
from the sale table
at the garden center, one
I’ve nursed for two years,
and finally the nose
of a shoot poked between
the broad paddles
of leaves, then a slender stem
with five small buds, winter-white
against a winter window,
and today’s unwrapping--
like a star, a small mouth
singing at its center.
On the Line
“I’m sick and tired of being sick
and tired,” said Fritzi, my co-worker
at Ryan Aeronautical in San Diego
Back then, I made sandwiches and salads
for the cafeteria, washtubs of lettuce
soaked and broken, sliced carrots
and tomatoes, while she stocked the line
with pans of enchiladas or meat loaf
or steaming cooked corn. I was 20,
not old enough to drink the martinis
I made for T. Claude in his railroad
dining car. Pearl, the Jamaican woman
with broken broom straws for earrings,
Martha, the dishwasher and Tino, the guy
who cleaned up, the one who started
a fight with the chip and cookie man,
told me I had a nice ass, big legs, he said,
motioning with his hands, then kissing
his finger tips like it was a good thing.
Ralph, the chef who squirreled bottles
of vodka in burlap sacks of rice
and potatoes, his nose red,
his apron bloody, had no
opinion in the matter at all.
To the Poet Who Pets Chickens
for Katrin Talbot
An Adirondack waits in the shade
in the chicken yard, an iced tea
sweating on one arm of the chair,
a notebook and pen sitting on the other
as she sighs into her seat, her mind
wandering myriad paths for poems
until Rosy, her favorite Red Star struts
over, one long leg extended at a time,
orange feathers ruffled around her thighs
like a tutu, bird head cocked and rocking
on the ratchet of her neck. Rosy stops,
bobs, then hops into her lap,
part flight, part flounce and nestles there,
The woman strokes the bird from comb
to tail, cooing her love until Rosy calms,
adjusts her golden skirts
and sinks deeply into sleep, dreaming
of the eggs she will keep someday
and the gift of a few to this woman
for lemon custard and cake.
From my window, I can’t see
your leafy collar; your yellow head
is turned away. Only weeks ago
I plucked you from the window box
where geraniums made room.
A seed split and unfolded leaves
like cupped hands. Now you’ve grown
six feet; now your stalk is coiled
with an errant bean vine.
Now I imagine Jack in this world,
looking up your tangled stem,
wondering how far he needs to go.
He can’t see your face either,
but he knows that nothing can stand alone.
Sunflower, see how you are held
by this vine, see how it loves you.
Your moon face turns with the light.
See how facing east
is the way to gold?
Some Days I Feel
The way I wake a little too old
for the part, but blue-eyed and braided,
my pinafore more than a little tight.
When the tornado rolls across the stage lot,
I’m pelted and pummeled by dead owls
and gum, ears assaulted by suicidal
Munchkins and that bad-breathed dog
humping my leg. I try to steer clear
of those giant color cameras, and it’s true
that I had to speak-sing-prance
without exhaling into the frigid air,
a tedious task for someone used to belting
“You made me love you” to Clark Gable.
No wonder I need seven pairs of ruby slippers,
a lucky number by some accounts,
but I don’t feel so lucky. Enter Miss Gulch,
hook-nosed spinster who morphed
into the Wicked Witch in my spinning dream.
“I’ll get you, my pretty,” she says
when she is only a broom’s length away.
I am currently on a path to find my bliss,
so I turn, pail of water nearby, say,
“And your flocking monkeys too.”
©2015 Karla Huston