Two Poems by Karen Poppy

Recipe for Clearing Love Disasters

Ladle scum off top.

Reveal nourishing soup
Filled with root vegetables,
Fortifying broth. Steaming
With strength and possibility.

Feed to someone worthy. Yourself.






With Our Loneliness Glistening, Like That Live-Oak Tree, Like Your Beloved River, Singing

Walt Whitman, what is it?
You, with butterflies in your beard,
With saltwater in your beard
From the brackish, bidirectional waters
Of the River Hudson. Loneliness.

I am lonely too, despite this interconnection.
My hair dries in the sunshine as I write,
As I move my pen across your reflection.
They would rather read me than know me.
They would rather this than my hair done pretty.

We cannot help but wonder at the river's direction—
You under, me over. The spiderweb showing 
Busy intricacies. Eccentric, the river making
Its own web of waves and eddies. We flow.
There is so much to know between you and me.

That old, gnarled trunk, that smooth face, that eye.
Federico, he knew you too—and what did he come to know?
Afloat in that jasmine-scented boat to eternity.
What is there to see? I'll wait here some more.
I'm not ready for those shimmering waves, however heavenly.

Like you, I am lonely. I said this before. I, under a tree, on shore.
As a child, I picked blades of grass, watched the ants
In single file do their soldiers' work, wished them no injury.
Now I cross back to your time, soldiers, young men and boys.
Our nation at civil war: startled and trenched. Division is lonely.

You were a friend, a nurse, a confidant.
The bedpan glinting like a fish. Cool cloth
To wipe down brow and remaining limbs.
What war does to us. Peace, even more alone.
Then we sit in the tree's uneven shade

And wonder why. My hair's all dry
With salt and sun. The shade can't cover me.
Tree's assortment of shadows bewilders me,
It alone, and I lonely, inadequate in its inadequate shade.
A blue sky free from cloud is no less lonely.

We have all lived under the same shade, the same sky.

That is why we can call on each other, to say,
“Hey, you there, are you lonely like me?”
Even when joyous, reunited with a friend a lover,
We know the answer, dear Walt, New York or Louisiana.

			Or—here, I'll admit it—in California.
Karen Poppy

Karen Poppy has work published in numerous literary journals, magazines, and anthologies. Her chapbooks CRACK OPEN/EMERGENCY (2020) and OUR OWN BEAUTIFUL BRUTALITY (2021) are both published by Finishing Line Press. Her chapbook, EVERY POSSIBLE THING, is published by Homestead Lighthouse Press (2020). An attorney licensed in California and Texas, Karen Poppy lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. Visit her website and view her publications at https://karenpoppy.com/publications/

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