"There Will Be Shelter" - Emily Katherine

This month Word says goodbye to Emily Katherine, who starts a new chapter of her life in Asheville. Good luck, Emily -- come back and see us! (Photo by David Noah)

"There Will Be Shelter" - Emily Katherine

1. The day my mother told me there are some things I shouldn’t tell her
I became a woman.
She said some things were too painful and the sharing of them only made her worry
and then made me worry about her worrying and it was a cycle we could forget
with closed mouths and throats that hummed instead of sang.
I didn’t stop telling her things.
But I stopped being oblivious to effect of my words

2. They say you will step over many bodies if you walk this road,
they say at first it won’t get better, but it might get different,
that if you can believe in change, even for 5 minutes at a time, you have a chance.
I remember standing in a circle of held hands the day I had 102 days clean
my face uplifted like a received blessing
the press of calloused flesh to my tender palm a benediction
I remember the first time I could go to the laundromat without being afraid of running into my past
and the way my name began to fall from other mouths like it was welcome there and not just a bad taste
I will never forget my unrelated brother and the day he died,
the wind whipped up from the lake so fast it could be felt from NY to Georgia
His smile is a wrinkle on my heart now

3. There are easy rules to follow too, if easy is what you are looking for
– don’t google your symptoms. ever
– don’t weigh yourself, your body is more than the sweet tug of gravity and anyway, God, doesn’t it feel good to be anchored to the world now?
– sing in the shower, in the car, while making dinner – give your throat every chance to practice forming sound and rhythm so that when you need it, your voice will ring out like a true bell
– and never give up
– just don’t

4. When I was 17, I wrote a list of ways I would stop apologizing for my presence
I didn’t know then that my body was already forming question marks over every word
that to stop saying sorry meant learning a new language
putting these bones to new use, digging these bones into the ground like tent poles
staking out my territory in the flesh landscape I was given
and learning to be grateful for every hill and valley that can be used to shelter you
I didn’t know that you needed refuge too
I didn’t know refuge could be a ship setting sail for new lands
look, we have come up to the top deck and even now, I can see the future spread out
like shiny lights in the distance

5. These are the ways I can be shelter
This woman that I am, this stitched together tongue, this humming throat
rubbed raw from finding harmony in the silence
This square hand I have, linked like a circuit breaker to my heart
go ahead, grab it, let this be rule 6: there is never a wrong time to reach out
no reason too good or bad, big or small.
These are the ways I can be shelter
the way I remember my brother who didn’t get to live to see the disease shaken
the stories I still tell about my chosen sons, that I gave freely back to the world
the poems I have written for my unborn daughter
and the way I have strung hope like Christmas lights around the entrance to my heart
and written messages to the future saying “be better’
This is how I am shelter
how I have swung the doors wide open, sifted sunlight through my ribs
built a safe room out of my arms and put them around you
sang every lullaby I knew into the phone until even the static on the other end of the line
hummed along
laid my body in the shape of a comma next to yours,
so that you didn’t have an excuse to end the sentence
told you “don’t you ever stop telling me things.”

Athens Word: photos, summer 2015

Gene at Avid, June 

Bob, Gene, and and Clela at Avid, June 

Mark and Bob, 
Cincinnati Word visit, June 

"Why? Why? Why?" - Charley Seagraves

"Why?  Why?  Why?" - Charley Seagraves

I'd like to be a drug addict,
  but I can't afford rehab.
I'd like to treat you to lunch,
  but I can't afford to pick up the tab.
I'd like to fly first-class to Gay Paree,
  but I can't afford that flight.
I'd like to own a Ferrari Testarossa,
  but I can't afford a Ferrari's headlight.
I'd like to go to Olde Mexico.
  buy myself a sombrero,
  take a siesta on the beach in Cabo,
  pero, no tengo el dinero.

Why does everything have to be so expensive?
Why does everything have to cost so much money?
Why can't we all live the good life?
Why can't we feast in the land of milk and honey?

I'd like to make a movie with Brigitte Bardot,
  I think that would be groovy, but you never know.
I'd like to go on the road with Jack Kerouac,
  but if I were to do that, I might never come back.
I'd like to have a drink with Bukowski, one drink, no more,
  for I do not wish to end up sprawled on Bukowski' s floor.
I'd like to sing a song with Townes Van Zandt,
  if Townes would sing with me,
  a duet of "If I Needed You,"
  but I know I'd sing off-key.

Why can't we dream impossible dreams?
Why can't we let our imaginations run wild?
Why must we always be so uptight?
Why can't we celebrate our inner child?

"The soul of music" - A poet bee

"The soul of music" - A poet bee

and thousands
of years ago,
long before
whistles of bone,
even drums,
our forefathers'
listened to the night.

They learnt
to appreciate
and inculcate
rhythm, beat,
and tone
into humanity's
young soul.
Atavistic traits
that now give us
and great

Eons later
in the cold drizzle
of English weather
pre-Druid friends
stayed up at night
and waited
for clouds to part,
clear sky,
and unnamed consellations.

For some cheer,
they listened
to their early souls
and imitated
with drums
and song.

By day,
they dragged great
rocks around
to celebrate
the night sky,
maybe sunlight.
Who knows?

we dedicate
to song,
not the fizzle
of star gazing
behind gray clouds.

Hear, ye. Hear!

And play! 

[Image of Stonehenge at night by Brian Curtis].

"June 18th 2014" - Sam McCormick

"June 18th 2014" - Sam McCormick

none of the clocks are correct
and the dead arm hours are over

I must have been a thief
with all that gold around my face

the morning looks so good on you
I stole another glance before I made my way

I am beginning to realize I could
be a dancer or a mountain or a cup for ashing

if you want it work for it or
stand there naked and wild

before they catch you
make sure you remember to turn off

some of the thoughts that begin
to burn things down

"June 18th 2014" appeared online at Hidden City Quarterly. Sam McCormick was the featured reader at Athens Word of Mouth, July.