Fields and floods

I wrote this ten years ago. It’s always weird to go back over something you haven’t looked at in ten years. I never did get this one published, probably because it is so vague. There’s no central point to it, except that it uses words to express that feeling I have when I go out onto the trail in the winter. I’m fond of this poem.

Fields and floods

Winter should be peaceful, filled as it is
with dry grass and wind, a few clouds pieced
together with snowflakes. The sky pleases itself,
opens each dawn like a window once the sun
has sipped his tea. The frozen meadow knows
how easily bared dirt sifts into the wind. And then
there are the voices that murmur in the cold, groaning
over hardened ground. In so many places we have remade
the earth into what we think we want, the weight of us
creaking along the surface near the fallen leaves,
our footprints inevitable. So many changes—
we have forgotten how quietly the last few ponds sleep
in ice-stretched fields. How the land cradles the sunset’s
reflection in her flooded, frozen hollows.

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Fog

It’s strange to read this poem again, now that my sons are grown up. I wrote this eight years ago! More of my weather sonnets are in my chapbook Cloud Studies.

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Fog

From here the tree looks like it’s hardly there,
half-formed and blurry in the shifting mist.
Like sleep, precipitation clouds the air
with fuzzy dreams and silence. I resist
the melancholy, choosing to believe
that clarity is understood, not seen.
Inside my son is playing games, one sleeve
pushed up, the other drooping in between
his fingers as I watch him laugh and frown.
The tv sprinkles light against his skin,
as indistinct as any fog while down
the hall his brother tunes his violin,
its notes as insubstantial as this day
when growing up still feels so far away.

12 Days of Catmas

12 days of Catmas

On the first day of Christmas
my two cats gave to me
a dingleberry in a pine tree.

On the second day of Christmas
my two cats gave to me
two hair balls,
and a dingleberry in a pine tree.

On the third day of Christmas
my two cats gave to me
three dead mice,
two hair balls,
and a dingleberry in a pine tree.

On the fourth day of Christmas
my two cats gave to me
four pathetic howls,
three dead mice,
two hair balls,
and a dingleberry in a pine tree.

On the fifth day of Christmas
my two cats gave to me
five piles of poo,
four pathetic howls,
three dead mice,
two hair balls,
and a dingleberry in a pine tree.

On the sixth day of Christmas
my two cats gave to me
six stinging scratches,
five piles of poo,
four pathetic howls,
three dead mice,
two hair balls,
and a dingleberry in a pine tree.

On the seventh day of Christmas
my two cats gave to me
seven shredded sparrows,
six stinging scratches,
five piles of poo,
four pathetic howls,
three dead mice,
two hair balls,
and a dingleberry in a pine tree.

On the eighth day of Christmas
my two cats gave to me
eight hissy fits,
seven shredded sparrows,
six stinging scratches,
five piles of poo,
four pathetic howls,
three dead mice,
two hair balls,
and a dingleberry in a pine tree.

On the ninth day of Christmas
my two cats gave to me
nine fishy farts,
eight hissy fits,
seven shredded sparrows,
six stinging scratches,
five piles of poo,
four pathetic howls,
three dead mice,
two hair balls,
and a dingleberry in a pine tree.

On the tenth day of Christmas
my two cats gave to me
ten tons of fur,
nine fishy farts,
eight hissy fits,
seven shredded sparrows,
six stinging scratches,
five piles of poo,
four pathetic howls,
three dead mice,
two hair balls,
and a dingleberry in a pine tree.

On the eleventh day of Christmas
my two cats gave to me
eleven spitting kittens,
ten tons of fur,
nine fishy farts,
eight hissy fits,
seven shredded sparrows,
six stinging scratches,
five piles of poo,
four pathetic howls,
three dead mice,
two hair balls,
and a dingleberry in a pine tree.

On the twelfth day of Christmas
my two cats gave to me
twelve stolen salmon,
eleven spitting kittens,
ten tons of fur,
nine fishy farts,
eight hissy fits,
seven shredded sparrows,
six stinging scratches,
five piles of poo,
four pathetic howls,
three dead mice,
two hair balls,
and a dingleberry in a pine tree.

 

2011 Christine Klocek-Lim

Don’t drink on xmas eve

Busy beautiful winter

Don’t drink on xmas eve

It happened this past midnight clear:
three crazy elves and two drunk deer
crashed in the yard atop my sled
then slipped downhill against the shed.

The sky was dry, the sunset gone:
where in hell did they come from?
Their groans and moans kept me awake;
I knew there must be some mistake.

In the dark I clomped downhill
and yelled my ire into the chill:
“Don’t you know it’s xmas eve?
Be quiet or I will make you leave!”

The sudden hush, like blocks of ice,
fell on my ears (oh so nice!)
as elves and deer peered up at me
like I was Nick and they: debris.

“We lost our sleigh and drank the beer;
your backyard was so close and clear.
We just could not control our stumble—
here we fell in this great jumble!”

Then their chortles broke the calm.
I dragged them home to wait for dawn.
The barfing wasn’t too severe,
but have you heard of snoring deer?

Santa owes me big for this
I thought as one elf burped a kiss
but it wasn’t till I fell asleep
that Santa came for his lost sheep.

And beneath the tree? What was my take?
Three beers, two bells, and one fruitcake.

 

2007 Christine Klocek-Lim

Mrs. Kringle’s Lament

It is still snowing here

Mrs. Kringle’s Lament

They said we’d only get an inch of snow
but when I wake it’s covered up the road
and slush has pulled some branches down so low
my favorite tree looks like it might explode.

I trudge outside with gloves and scarf and salt
to promptly slip and fall upon my rear
before I even reach the curb. “Assault!”
I bitch, then freeze as something licks my ear.

I scoot away, my heart up in my throat
and think:
a zombie! when the icy slop
slumps to the side like puke on glass. A coat
so cheery green it makes me want to pop

out both my eyes emerges next to me.
I groan and pinch my nose. I know that face.
Those bells. That burp. He’s grown a sparse goatee
which doesn’t quite enhance the scraggly lace

sewn on his cap. “Oh, you again!” he sneezes,
grabs my sleeve as though I’ll help him up.
Yeah, right. I dodge his drunken grasp and seize
his pointed, chilly ears. He drops his cup.

I just don’t care. He thrashes, tries to kick
but cannot get away. “Where’s the deer?”
I snarl. I wish that Santa’d get here quick
before his merry crew drinks all the beer.

“You think I’d rat out my best friends? Oh please!”
he cries, then vomits just as someone’s head
ducks out of sight behind the frosty trees
like Samurai Jack, but drunk. And wearing red.

“I know you’re there, you might as well come out,”
I call, my spirits sinking to despair
as I catch sight of antlers and a snout
crouched low behind my car. I swear.

This happens every year. No joyful bells
for me, oh no. Instead, delinquent elves,
escapees from St. Nick’s gift wrap cartels,
crash in my yard to sleep. “Show yourselves!”

I yell again, not hoping for too much.
Surprise, surprise, who waddles out? The Man.
Kris Kringle. Santa Claus. I blink and clutch
my head (I drop the elf). “What’s the plan?”

I ask. I hope he knows what’s happening.
He “ho-ho-ho’s” and sways a bit, then slips
and suddenly I feel the bitter sting
of cognizance: he’s drunk from feet to lips.

I sigh and drag his jolly ass to bed,
park the sleigh, coax Rudolph to the shed.
The elf I tuck into an extra room.
The beer, I’m sure, is gone, and none too soon.

 

2010 Christine Klocek-Lim

Tis the season

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‘Tis the Season

The malls are insane but you have to go shopping
for ribbon and candy to fill the last stocking.
You can’t stop to cry, ’tis the season for snow
and ice covered roads jammed with cars going slow
slow, so horribly … oh! There’s a dude dressed in red
on the side of the walk. He’s clutching his head
like someone hungover. His pants are all goopy:
the knees ripped right out, the butt kind of droopy.
You slow down to stare, but then offer a ride.
He kisses your cheek as he ducks down to hide.
“What the hell are you doing?” you ask and he smirks:
“Rudolph got wasted, went kind of berserk.”
You gape, shake your head. “Oh please, you’re not Santa.”
He shrugs and explains he was over Atlanta
when someone cracked open a bottle of whiskey.
“Three shots and the next thing I knew they’d got frisky.
Comet kicked Dasher right in the——”
“Stop!” you freak out, “Just keep your mouth shut.”
He laughs and you blush, thinking this must be a joke,
he can’t be St. Nick, he looks like a hoax.
“You can drop me right here,” he says while you frown.
“Prancer’s waiting right there, at the edge of the town.”
You slow down, still dubious, but the dude is quite right:
near the tree is a reindeer, head down, fur a fright.
“I told them they shouldn’t imbibe in December.
You’d think they’d believe me, or at least remember
the last time this happened.” He wrinkles his nose
and suddenly yells, “You dumbass! I almost froze!”
You freeze, not believing that Santa would curse,
but Prancer just snorts and throws up on your purse.
“Um—” you say, shocked. The reindeer looks sorry.
You gulp, and inch backwards: Santa’s no longer jolly.
He takes one step forward and scratches his ear—
the next thing you know there’s nothing but beer
left on top of the snow. And footprints. And barf.
You sigh, somewhat pissed, enough is enough,
but as you turn around twice to get out of sight
you trip on the vomit … UGH. What a night!
Next year, Santa please, don’t let them drink booze.
I’d like to go shopping … with clean shoes.

2012 Christine Klocek-Lim

Dark Matter poems featured at Nautilus — Cosmos

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I’m very excited to present a selection of poems from my book, Dark Matter, at Nautilus, for their Cosmos issue, along with some brief commentary by yours truly.

Click through to Nautilus — Cosmos, and then scroll down to choose: The Stars Are a Comforting Constant.

Hat tips to Aldrich Press, 3 Quarks Daily, and the Ellen La Forge Memorial Prize in Poetry. A very special thanks to George Musser Jr. to reaching out to me, and Regan Penaluna for the finishing touches.

front cover

September 2015 – Aldrich Press/Kelsay Books

buy link: Amazon

 

An earlier version of Dark Matter won the following prizes: 

2009 Ellen La Forge Poetry Prize (formerly the Grolier Prize) for poems: “Star explodes halfway across universe,” “Saturn’s moon may have hidden seas,” “Smallest black hole found,” “How to search for aliens,” “Mysterious white rock fingers on Mars,” and “Three galaxies and a comet.”

2009 semi-finalist in the Philip Levine Prize in Poetry.

2009 semi-finalist in the University of Wisconsin Press Poetry Series, Brittingham and Pollak Poetry Prizes.

2009 semi-finalist for the Sawtooth Poetry Prize, Ahsahta Press, Boise State University.

2010 semi-finalist for the Crab Orchard Series in Poetry First Book Award Competition.