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
You, the Birds and the Picture Window
It happened again, scared the crap
out of you, the bam, bird slam
and the window’s momentary shudder.
This time it’s a cardinal and he’s staggering,
each foot unsure of the other,
red tail cock-eyed and askew. You
are responsible for windows
made of sky and branches
that look good enough to land on.
The smack of the glass reminds you
of how easy it is to fall
for the illusion. Yesterday
a dove flew through wet snow.
The reflection must have looked
real enough—another bird, a few
feet away, waiting to soar
to somewhere warm, and like Icarus,
finding the heat tempting and deadly.
What is left is real enough:
dust and body splat, proof
of existence, even though
the bird is long gone. Yet the wings,
are so defined, they look like hands,
each spread finger reaching
for something beyond the window.
The feet, a blur, as if the bird
tried to stop before it went headlong
into oblivion and you, grounded though
you are, dumb struck, watching it
happen from the other side.
Flash Mobs Always Make Me Cry
like the ones at Christmas where choirs
gather to sing the Hallelujah Chorus
at a mall, preferably one with two stories,
so altos, sopranos and tenors can
make me cry from two levels. No matter
how many flash mob videos I see,
I always have the same reaction. Crying,
while singing “Nearer My God to Thee”
or “Amazing Grace” in church
which reminds me of sitting
with my grandparents on Sunday mornings.
I’m watching a YouTube video of “Ode to Joy”
staged on a street in Sabadell, Spain,
which starts with a single string bass,
a girl who puts a coin in a hat
while the bass player is joined by a cello
and then horns trumpet, trombones slide,
piccolos trill, singers wail and the conductor,
who showed up with the violas,
wags his head in a joyous fury,
hair flying, and yes, hot tears stream
down my cheeks.
It’s like a wedding or a funeral--
those are guaranteed to make me cry;
it’s the chill of being transported
on a surge of beauty, where everything
beautiful creates more beauty. It feels like
being kissed by millions.
Picking Up the Dead
I’ve had my share of birds
who careened into tricky
windows. Once a flattened
raccoon on an Oklahoma city street,
sun festered and snubbed
but my daughter took this route
to school each day. The road-killed
black squirrel my dog insisted
on sniffing, nosing death
like pleasure. Today,
a rabbit head, cheek broken,
a toothy stiff grimace—
the rest of it stolen by an owl,
perhaps. Who is responsible
for picking up the dead?
This morning’s waning moon
at my window—as I head out
to collect what others have ignored—
a mere splinter
of what was once ripe and vibrant
and the shadows of it
through the glass repeating:
this moon, this moon, that.
Previously published in Third Wednesday March 2013
©2016 Karla Huston