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
My Father's Horns
Saturday nights he'd jam the van:
the upright silver bass or the curvy
sousaphone, mouthpiece carried
in his pocket to keep it warm.
He'd pick up the guys and head
for dance halls, play big-band style
and pack the house. Back then,
the gang played standards,
some oom-pa-pas and little waltzes.
The dance floor was packed to the rafters
with suits and full circle skirts;
sometimes a pretty woman sang.
"It's getting a little dry
and dusty up here," Jerry’d say,
and beers and whiskey sodas appeared.
My father drove home after,
half asleep, a little jazzed,
his throat choked with smoke,
The horns, their big bells silent,
settled once more in the van.
Those Saturday night beauties--
the ones he held tight,
the ones he crooned to.
My mother—keeping time at home.
Catch and Release
Now as the ice begins its slow
spring shrinking from the lakeshore,
fishermen will drop anchor and like spiders
cast their lines, and the boys will be found,
the two who disappeared one November
storm ago. When they are discovered,
their families might finally be released from grief,
finally free to let them go, but a different
ache will lure them, and they will know
there is no getting beyond the pull of the shore.
And the boys—they are tired of floating
under the water’s thick shell, tired
of sturgeon gnawing their skin, tired of their
thin and drifting hair, of hands grasping
at prayers. They’ll be glad to be found--
if the dead are glad of anything--
after all those months of freefall,
the rising that always comes in spring.
-from Catch and Release, 2005, Marsh River Editions
Some say the sick
crave it when they
are about to die.
Spidery flesh fills
them with longing
for floods and sun.
My mother, as she lay
dying, asked for
nothing, her breathing
transparent and dry.
I offered a swab
of water for her
ice chips for mouth
thick with fever.
Had I touched those
jeweled cubes to her
lips, she might have
smiled before she
the hard rind of pain
pulling her into
its final sweetness.
©2016 Karla Huston