Katie Donovan Poems

ROOTLING

Little wrestler,
you snort, snuffle
and lunge;
latching on
like a cat
snatching and worrying
her prey.
Once attached,
you drag on me
like a cigarette,
puffing between sucks,
nose pressed close,
somehow catching
your wheezy breath.
Between rounds,
in your white wrap
you arch your back
for a rub,
like I'm your coach,
readying you
for newfound strength
in the ring.
Your fists flail,
fingers hooking
my nursing bra,
your feet curl and kick,
toes a feast
of tiny action.
There is nothing romantic
in this vital ritual,
yet I crane over you,
a loose sack,
liquid with the loss
of your form,
with the tears of labour
and lolling hormones
making me gush
along with my womb,
still churning out afterbirth.
So when
you dandle my nipple
with a gummy smile,
I tell myself
your grin's for me,
even if you've got
that look
of a seasoned souse
on his most
delicious tipple.... more »

DAY OF THE DEAD, NEW ORLEANS

for Lar Cassidy

You would have loved one last night
of the syncopated "Funky Butt",
with Big Al rolling
his great, luscious voice
out of the massive black mountain
of his chest,
the boys lifting their silver trumpets,
the flush in their cheeks
going right up to their thinning hair,
while the tomcat on the piano
sends his hands a-jitter
for the "Charleston Rag",
and the sweet molasses drummer
drops his long lashes
and shimmies his cymbal.

All the vaults in the graveyard
are rollicking their brollies
with the beat and swish,
twirl and flourish;
in the voodoo haunt on Bourbon Street,
the obeah woman's hair stands up
with the tongues of serpents,
the clay ladies open their legs
and little heads peek out; even Christ on his crucifix
has all the time in the world
for dixie.

My tears roll
when I think of the freezing day
we tried to warm
with our drums and poetry,
when we laid you down,
and carried your jazzy hat away.

In this city
where your shadow
takes a closer walk
grief brims
like the upside down grin
of the Mississippi
with its sad, booming boats,
and I think of you as a great craft
powering down the current.

until your light failed
and you ran aground,
and we stood on the shore
in our Mardi Gras masks,
watching you sink,
wringing our hands;

and in your big marshmallow
and sweet potato voice you said:
"Laissez le bon temps rouler,
laissez le bon temps rouler.'... more »

CONFLUENCE

Beneath the amber hood
of the street lamp,
beside the black gates
of the somnolent park,
we are eyed by fanlights,
flanked by motionless cars.

In this blind Georgian lane
you lean in
to claim a kiss.

I offer you my goodnight lips,
staying like a shut purse
in your embrace,
wary after years
of opening too fast
my burns still hurt and proud.

Yet the sweetness of your mouth,
and your tongue — a luscious,
sinuous sea-creature -
is a feast I cannot resist;

nor can I pull back
from the strength in your arms
as you draw me close,
loosening your coat
to fold me
in your cinnamon heat.

Here it is, timeless,
a scene on a street:

a man and a woman
tongued and grooved
into one.... more »

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