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Cathy Colman – From an Imprint

Profile Cathy Colman LE Poetry & Writing September 2018

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From an Imprint, poems by Cathy Colman

Cathy Colman’s first poetry collection, Borrowed Dress, won The Felix Pollak Award from the University of Wisconsin and was on The Los Angeles Times Bestseller list. Her second book Beauty’s Tattoo was published by Tebot Bach. Her poems have appeared in The Gettysburg Review, Ploughshares, Barrow Street, The Colorado Review, The Journal, The Huffington Post, Prairie Schooner and elsewhere. Her poem entitled “The Last Time I Saw Virginia Woolf” was chosen by the Carnegie-Mellon curator of a traveling anti-gun visual art show to be included as the only poem.


Both Visible

If only I could have rested
in a world of         knowable equations
before I was  married           upstream
in a churn of warning.
Our belongings,      the anchors
that sunk us deeper: your already crippled
raincoat falling        into the stairwell,    Zig-Zag papers
on the spool table, batteries waiting in their
liminal lives for years,   throngs        of T-shirts and
sweatshirts gnarled together in the hamper
as if a killer instinct         had suddenly gotten     loose.
When we were still at the            threshold, particles
must have lost their hold on each         other, blown
into the    confetti of   petals, spindles from branches
unhinged from their limbs rained down
on us         like a finely-honed chaos.     And by the end
of that long night, I was married        to someone
enthralled by the cadence         of his own footsteps pacing
the halls in the small hours, bickering         with himself
in the bathroom mirror, drying          his socks over the stove
burners while he sat, studying       naked and beautiful in the kitchen
like a marble statue of Anteros,     learning yet
another doomed language.

From an Imprint

There’s never enough sun in the tiny room
where my almost weightless father
has had gravity’s forgetfulness fever the heft out of him.

Cobalt shadows on his face, fingernails like horn,
water glass through which patches like trod-on leaves
show crimson on his hands.

I am intoxicated by loss that courses on
in its entrepreneurial fervor: his skin loosening, his
left eye always closed.

When he looks at me suddenly, his right eye stops.
It has found something–– it glitters hard,
unfamiliar like newly formed quartz cracked

green by day. The eye is discerning, angry
yet relieved that I am all it recognizes.


The last time I heard Thelonius Sphere Monk

Water in the gutter sounds
like bebop   and the gravel like hard
bop                  while I worry my
worry beads waiting  for you          to come
back, my echo-in-the-stairwell
man.                       You’re like

a record snowfall, once       you’re here
we can’t get out        of the house. We
feed the cats cottage cheese
and pretend      we’re dieting in
the bomb shelter because the                cirrus

and cumulus from Washington D. C. are lowering, dark-
ening and       darkling, listen to the     news and
there may be a tinny voice that warns us bad
acid     is being       sold  on    7th Avenue and
in Syria,       while we are
in the crosshairs of        I lied and

fucking        shut up, liminal like            between
seconds  and  sub-lingual            like your tongue
enmeshed with mine. I’m     waiting for our early
amphibious natures to drag us back into
the feracious water          so we can

rebirth ourselves    not like        Christians
but like fish with feet                                   who walk
on golf     courses    in Florida though     darling
we’ll probably end up voting Republican
because it’s too bright                          to see or read

a book where    a woman      waits      on a Greek
island     for a poem to come       to her like
a trained dog but        without   tiki torches    and
gun caps in the backyard,      relics      from our
on-going     civil   wars. Not just the countries’ but

ours because we     tried couples   counseling and
it always boils      down to either
a seque-way or a boy’s choir and sometimes
a telegram that’s taken              so long to reach
us     it just says          Stop. Stop. Stop.


© Cathy Colman