Posted tagged ‘Jason Martin light sculpture’

Morning (Not Quite Sprung)

March 31, 2018

Morning (Not Quite Sprung)

In this house, we hear the stream summers,
but now the burble of humidifier shushes
the dawns,
which still shell us latish
what with the time change.

When I say ”shell’, I speak of opalescence–
not firey bursts of wake-up–old houses built as shields
against weather.

We lie together, bundled oblongs
beneath that pearled arc, waiting to be
cracked open or boiled whole–the days have been
hard lately.

You nest in the covers murmuring
in the blended burble of humidifier and
my elbowed apologies (for all those shifts and sips),
that I’m not bothering you, meaning
stay next to me,
and I say, I will.



Poem belatedly posted for Shay (Fireblossom)’s wonderful prompt on Real Toads urging the use of metaphoric language.   The pic is of a light sculpture by Jason Martin. 


March 9, 2016

Heart Out of the Box2


We are finite
on this fine night
so warm people sit out
on a roof, their feet
dwarf stars,
and I want to hold you
as you are
and as I am
though we aren’t that
even in the next minute
that much closer
to that final lover
whose arms we’ll fold into
no matter how loved, how close
the stars.


Draft poem for Real Toads open platform. The pic is a photo of a light sculpture made by my husband Jason Martin.  (I’ve edited since first posting, as originally the poem began with “you” rather than “we.”) 

Last Legs

April 23, 2015


Last Legs

Your legs, at the last,
clearly would not last.
Skin worn thin,
vessels prodding the rim
as if already on their way
to somewhere else.

They could maybe sometimes briefly
but this was not the rite
of stance, where legs foot push
into the ground,
take root,
tow gravity.

These were legs whose flesh
caged wings
alternately frantic to take flight
or dejected, the inner bird slumped
against humped thigh, hinged knee,
the bone-scraped bar
of shin.

But what is it takes flight in death
when limbs sink
so heavily, when all falls
so gravely down?
I can only think of that bit
called last, what makes
legs last,
what we hope
will last,
even when it can’t be found
any longer, even as
we long for it.


Calling this a draft because it rhymes with last and because I just wrote it this morning before work.  For my own prompt on With Real Toads about “last legs”; this is some poem for some day in April, 2015 National Poetry month.  I appreciate the picture is perhaps not exactly right;  it is a light sculpture by my husband, Jason Martin.


On Valentine’s

February 14, 2015

Heart Out of the Box

On Valentine’s

I tell him that a friend has told her son
just to put her in a room
with paper and glue
but I don’t make collages,
so he should stick to the stones.

He says,
“what if I just smother you?”
I think for a second, washing potatoes,
then say, “no, I don’t think smothering
would be good,”
and he says, “what if I smother you
with love?” sending
his best crooked smile, but I, paying it no mind,
pour the potatoes in a sieve, then douse them
with water, then, as a stream pours down
the cabinet–”look, see
what I mean–”

“You were just distracted,” he says,
“talking about me smothering you–you had them near
the sink,” and I say, “no, I actually forgot
it was a sieve,”
and he shrugs and I wipe the floor,
trying to console myself with the fact
that there wasn’t that much
water, and say, “no, you shouldn’t
smother me; that would seem
so aggressive,”
and he says, “you think?”
“It might upset me,” I say, “the last thing I see being
you smothering me,”
and he says, “I’m not
going to smother you,”
and I say, “just put the stones
in my pockets and aim me
for the pond–it would be
like a game,” but he
is doing the crossword now,
and I’m pretty sure can’t be counted on
even for the stones.


I couldn’t resist posting this as a second poem for my prompt on With Real Toads, about promises. The above is a not-very-good photograph of a light sculpture by my dear husband, Jason Martin. 

Not Watched – From “Nice.”

March 1, 2014


Many of you know that I have been working on the manuscript for a novel.  The book is called Nice.  Here’s an excerpt (taken from the very middle of the book) that I am posting for the prompt by Mary of dVerse Poets Pub on invisibility. The story takes place in the summer of 1968.  Photo above is of a light sculpture by Jason Martin.  (Sorry for length!)


Every hour on the hour they had a fifteen minute rest period.  It was a time when all the screaming, splashing, marco poloing, stopped and grown-ups, with their strange dry strokes, puffy backs and silken bathing caps, swam slow laps.  You had to be over sixteen to stay in the water.

Like the other kids, Les sat along the edge of the pool, waiting for the whistle.  A boy with red hair, older than her but clearly below sixteen, slipped silently from the ledge across, and ducked beneath the water, his body an expanded wriggle beneath the blue.

She felt the whole poolside watching him, holding its collective breath till he pulled himself up onto the pool’s opposite side, head sleek as an otter, water shimmering down his back.  Everyone, in relief and pleasure, readjusted their bottoms, hid their smirks.  It was as if they had all fooled the guard.

Then Les felt herself alone again, herself the watched one.

She hadn’t talked to Arne all day, but she knew he had been keeping an eye on her,  even as he pretended not to.

What had she told him?  Why had she said anything?

It was because of the grass.  She’d heard him and Jasper talking about it when she’d been hiding in the bushes beside the patio.  She hadn’t meant to hear, she just had, and then when she went down there, she knew they had done it, the way they looked.  It was so crazy, Arne smoking grass, Arne, the math nerd.

She’d wondered whether maybe it meant that he was different from what she’d always thought; that maybe he was normal, human, someone she could actually talk to.

But it was stupid to think that.  Because he wasn’t any different.  He was the same old Arne.  And now she had said something to him, something stupid.

Bruce Beebee was at the pool too, Bruce from school.  Bruce, who didn’t even belong to that swimming pool, Bruce with a streak of white stuff down his nose, a deep tan everywhere else, sitting on a picnic table at the snack bar with his brother.  He was not directly looking at her either; yet she felt his looks all the same, and in his looks, she felt this change in herself, a change that showed as much as his thick white streak, only the streak looked almost cool, and she couldn’t think of herself as cool, not even this changed self.

She answered his not looking at her by not looking at him, crossing her arms over her chest, keeping her eyes down towards the water.

Arne hulked by Bruce’s brother.  She had forgotten that they knew each other, and Jasper too, and they were all standing or leaning on the picnic table talking, Jasper eating a frozen Snickers bar, Bruce listening to them, holding his tennis racket between his legs, two palms pressed against the racket part.

She wondered whether Arne was telling them something, telling them what she had said.

He wouldn’t–she knew he wouldn’t–and yet, with the echo of his telling in her mind, she couldn’t stand not looking at them any more, not being looked at in return, and she got up from the side of the pool and walked slowly towards the girls’ locker room, feeling in the boys’ not-looks the pucker of her bathing suit inside her buttocks, and she hurried her walk a little, though she still aimed for nonchalance, not wanting to reach down and tug the suit loose, not with them not watching.

The locker room was immediately cool.  It smelled of wet paint and wet toilet paper and dank chlorinated concrete, all tinged with Coppertone.  She sat down on a short blue bench by a wall of wooden cubby holes.  The surface of the bench was knobby with repeated paint jobs.  She ran her finger over a speckled place that someone had already started to peel.

How could she go back to school in the fall? She hadn’t even thought about that part.  Her mom might not notice anything, but kids would.

Now two older girls burst in, falling over each other through the bright doorway, the flesh of their stomachs rolling over their bikinis.

‘Did you see that?’ they laughed, ‘what he did?’ ‘I almost died.’

They laughed themselves to the mirror, which for a moment, they seemed to embrace. They were closer there, their warm baby oil seeping over her.  Then the dark-haired girl dug into an open cubby and, finding a tube of lipstick behind some rolled-up cut-offs, coated her lips in ghostly lavender.

The other girl, whose hair was lighter, messed with a brown paper bag folded around a half lemon.  Leaning against the mirror, she pulled one side of hair back above her ears and squeezed juice over it, combing as she squeezed and picking at the pulp and seeds that clung to the wet strands.

“Jesus, this stuff is shit; does it look horrible?” she said.

“No more than usual,” the dark-haired girl said.

The other scowled.

“Just kidding,” the dark-haired one laughed.  “Come on, it just looks a little wet; that’s all.”

They re-tied each other’s bikini tops.  As one tied, the other looked at herself in the mirror, trying out a selection of smiles.  Beneath the smiles, the floating triangles of cloth re-centered themselves.

Les looked down at the bench, conscious of her own breasts.  Nothing like these girls, but different from what they had been, no longer a simple ribcage of breath.

Could she tell them?  It would be like telling her friends, only they weren’t her friends, so it would be better.  She would never have to talk to them again.

“This really weird thing happened to me–” she could say.

She tried to imagine them leaning into her like they leaned into the mirror.

‘Some people might think it was cool,’ she could say.

Leaning into her, listening to her, not even noticing after a bit that she was actually one of the younger kids.

She would like that.

Jet Lag (draft poem)

April 23, 2013


Jet Lag

4 a.m. as I slither lumpily
between time zones, bumpily
siding you, my belly against your–
rumple-y minutes spent
in the dim between shadows, your shoulder blades
scything sibilant sleep breath, my wander attempting
to synch with the sounding board
of your sinewed back, but
I’m back, I want to whisper you; you


Another draft poem! Ha! Again, I’m not sure picture goes with it, but it is a photo of a light sculpture by my husband Jason Martin.

Will likely link this one to dVerse Poets Open Link Night.

Light Sculpture (Jason Martin)

February 4, 2013


The above is a photograph of a light sculpture (that is, a sculpture made with light as the medium, rather than clay or marble or bronze), made by Jason Martin, my husband.  All rights reserved.

“Missives” (And First Time Light Sculpture Film)

September 15, 2012


The first time I communicated with the dead
was through the “D” volume of
my Junior Britannica.
My letter was addressed
to my lost dog, though her name, which even today
is too embarrassing for me to repeat, began
with a C.

The next time was in the shadow
of my grandmother’s casket
as I watched my aunt rub out
the lipstick she felt
too bright
for the corpse
of someone so
“I’m sorry,” I thought to my
grandmother, “but you know
how she is.”

Since then, I haven’t lost count–
communications with the dead
are not something
one loses track of – I just can’t bear
to recite the coordinates – the place, the time, the
of sobs (interior
or wracking), the wait
for blessing.

My missive
is almost always the same – “I’m sorry” in all
its permutations – for your death, for
my life, for what I did–more often, for what
I didn’t do–

You’d think that I would learn by now.
You’d think that I’d be different,
but the dead, you see,
at least the ones I talk and write to,
are so forgiving–their stroking hush
holds me, allows me to go on
even as I am.


The above poem was written for dVerse Poets Pub’s Poetics Challenge on “First Times,” hosted by Fred Rutherford (of Poetical Psyche).  The video was made of a light sculpture by Jason Martin. 

Check out dVerse for lovely poetry, and, if you have time, check out my books!  Poetry, GOING ON SOMEWHERE, (by Karin Gustafson, illustrated by Diana Barco). 1 Mississippi -counting book for lovers of rivers, light and pachyderms, or Nose Dive, a very fun novel that is perfect for a pool or beachside escape.  Nose Dive is available on Kindle for just 99 cents!

“What She Had Wanted (A Pantoum)”

August 2, 2012

What She Had Wanted  (a pantoum)

When it all came down to it,
it wasn’t her father
gave up the baby, who’d spit
at fate and daughter.

It wasn’t her father
left alone now, the shit
of fate and daughter
of misfortune, who’d sit

(left alone) in the shit
of should-have-been, the fodder
of missed fortune; who’d sit
hard, when the hook caught her

of “should.”  Had been fodder
for him, sure. Her cheek hurt
hard when the hook caught her,
connected all her fresh with dirt.

(For him, sure, her cheek.)  Hurt
even with that fist so far away
(connected not with fresh, but dirt);
still squeezed her full breasts’ sway

even with that fist.  So far away,
seemingly– what she had vaunted
squeezed still.  Full breasts weigh
upon her shoulders–all she had wanted,

seemingly.  While what she had vaunted
gave up the baby, who’d spit
upon her shoulder–all that she had wanted,
when it came down to it.


What She Had Wanted (a Pantoum)



Agh!  I wrote the above draft poem for dVerse Poets Pub “form for all” challenge posted by the wonderfully accomplished sonneteer Samuel Peralta (a/k/a Semaphore) .  The challenge is to write a pantoum, a complicated form with interlocking repeated lines (and rhymes).  I’ve posted others; and a brief article on them here (with one of my first  ones.)

I am also linking this poem to With Real Toads for their open link night.  For Real Toads, I added an audio recording (not so great) but I think a reading illuminates a poem like this since the pauses are taken in odd places.  In the light, note that all the pauses are based on punctuation and not line breaks.  (I’m a great believer in punctuation especially for things like pantoums, where it can be used to make changes in the repeated lines.) 

The wonderful picture is of a light sculpture by Jason Martin of a heart in a box (tinfoil/cardboard). 


“Butler” (Poem about “Place/Setting”)

June 21, 2012

Place Setting (Napkin, Knife, Butler)

His hands a monument in themselves,
the fingers Trafalgar columns, tensile
dolmens, though not monumenting beauty
so much as making it. There was nothing
not worth doing, if done well.
A deep well was the
laundry sink, one whose whitewash
rusted blood-blue about the drain, though
he used shallower basins for
the napkins, a glisten
of salt, and, too, a secret substance (champagne) for
the stubborner stains, a fluid he also applied to
shoes aside the polishes, – cordovan, ebony,
jet– words rolling
off the tongue like pitches surmounted–those napkins,
once de-stained, folded,
sculpted, pressed, an origami of named magnificence–such
decadence to sit on a sodding lap–but he didn’t really
care for that part, it was
the spectacle. the gleam
and flow upon
the board–the mitre: linen trained to pray; the
napkin squared
upon napkin frame; the lotus, petals starched; fashioned
one by one upon
an ironing board anvil, felted white
above chintz cover, a flowery green/peach that might have graced
the wallpaper of a boarding house hyphenated on sea; his silver
knife blades mirrored
your nose sniffing the acrid de-tarnisher that blackened flesh and possibly
someone else’s soul–not, seemingly, his–the ink of the Magna Carta still
fluid in his veins, and beating
Hitler.  What he craved was
excellence and, yes,
its particular acknowledgement,
(which his linen marvels drew)
raised in a London orphanage,
where kerchiefs looped necks, and
corners tucked, and praise, perhaps, was
doled out, if at all, like biscuits at tea, sparingly. The evening pumps
he shone upon the enameled washing machine
and proudly showed off (as worn
by hand)–the crafting
of beauty always something
of which to be proud–glinted
like Andromeda in opera’s
velvet night;  the water glasses
sparkled too, every single bit
as much as the wine.


The above draft poem  (revised this AM again) was written for the wonderful prompt by Victoria C. Slotto for dVerse Poets Pub to write about “place/setting.”   (Yes, I know; I’m not sure this is what Victoria meant.)  It is based upon Leslie Lowndes, who made a living as a chauffeur/butler, was originally a Cockney from London, and also one of the most wonderfully kind and talented persons I’ve ever known.

The picture is of a light sculpture by Jason Martin, which, when lit up (in a not very good photo)  looks something like this: