Posted tagged ‘Karin Gustafson poetry’

Moving the Piano

June 21, 2022

Moving the Piano

The wind blew so hard it seemed that it might lift the wood
like a sail,
but it only whipped at the pants,
of the two short men, who felt obliged, at that point, to prove
their own strength. The legs of the beast—that is, the Upright—
transfixed as a bull’s
at the bottom of a high stoop, bruised grass beneath it, and uneven
frozen earth. 

So, slowly, with arms stretched like cords,
legs braced, spines pushing a weight that pushed
back, flngers as clenched as at a recital, the men
shifted the dark wood—you could feel the ivories’ smirk—

Until they were in. 
The men laughed then companionably, bending back one hand,
then the other, and closed the door to shut out
the wind’s harsh howl.

Wheeled the piano now, well, more or less wheeled it,
to its allotted spot—it was like a small triumph
of the human spirit—
the making of our own


Another drafty poem. The pic was the only piano I could find (that I had made.) The one in the poem is an upright not a grand. Have a good day!

The last time I saw my father

June 19, 2022

The last time I saw my father

He was so serene, I marveled how the undertaker
had gotten him
exactly right; his face back to a dignity it had always had
in illness, and also not;
his features so sweetly defined, not blurred
as they could be
by pain or anxiety—

He had never been fearful (not for himself), but he had worried deeply
about those he loved—why were they so determined
to take chances?
Or, much more insistently:
what would happen to her (my mother) when
he was gone?

But the last time I saw him, his face
no longer fretted—I had seen it before they fixed him too
and I know—
I know—
he no longer worried, and it wasn’t because
of any lessening of love,—

So that when I weep now,
it is for myself only, not for his loss of life,
but for my loss
of him—

I do not worry about what
has happened to him, where
he has gone—
With both hands, with his own face,
he gave me some measure of freedom
from that— 

There is simply a kind of love you cannot bear
not to have any more,
even when
you still have it. 


Draftish poem for Father’s Day. Have a good one!

ps – as always, all right to text and image reserved.

The Sky Seems

May 8, 2022


The Sky Seems

The sky seems to have studied
the history of art all night
and has settled on
Picasso’s Blue Period. 

The mountains find the green darknesses of Courbet;
the slate patio, though colorblind, contemplates

I look for the far hillsides
of the Renaissance—mists that couple
with the horizon—but the line of the mountains
is defined, and there’s no Madonna
on the Rocks, no Mona Lisa filling
the frame, no soldiers
on large-hammed horses
whose lances cunningly
re-direct my gaze—

But already, the sky’s flipped the page—this one a double-face of,
I don’t know, Cezanne and Remington—that is, pearl finding blue,
and now the clouds, the soft straight kind that seem to still stretch
across their beds, pull clean sheets
over their heads,
and the field shows up
in a zillion strokes of brush, dabbed
by daffodil— 

and I think of all those museums I have so missed
during this plague, that communion with squares on walls
that made me feel a part
of human history, of how one sees
the world, of how people people
the world, trees too,
and think that maybe I should
just try looking around more,
right here, right there.


Good morning!  Not a poem for Mother’s Day (although I snuck a little of that theme in my pic!)  Do have a happy one!  All rights reserved. 

Young Female Back in the 70’s

May 4, 2022

Young Female Back in the 70’s

As she checked for my results,
the woman on the other end of the phone line said slowly,
‘’m positive….”,
perhaps purposely slurring the “I” (which was me),

“you’re negative,”
and I wept
in the dull glass closet
of the phone booth,
hiding my face
in the side against
a wall.

Many of you reading this now
are lucky enough not to even know
what I am writing about.


Poem for leaking of draft Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade. 

The drawing is a little bit too much on the despairing side (one that I had) –I am sad, but also, honestly, very very angry.

Dream Horse

May 1, 2022

Dream Horse 

You wake to tell me of a dream
in which the horse we are currently taking care of
is the horse you had as a child. 

In your dream, he was over sixty years old
(far beyond the age of horses), but remembered you,
whickering at your hip pocket for the apple
you sometimes stuffed there,
as a child. 

You did not have an apple, so bent down to pull up grass,
proffering the spring green strands
in a flattened hand as if they were something
he could not himself pull from of the ground
and his horse lips rumpled softly, gratefully
in your palm.

I listen in the pre-dawn gloom, wondering
whether, if I dreamt at all, I could summon people
from my childhood, and if I could meet them
in some bright field, only it would be
my childhood kitchen, and it would be
my father, and he would be feeding me—what?
Breakfast cereal—Special K—
which he would pour out with a grin, saying,
“say when.”

I too would smile then
over the white bowl,
only I’m not sure I could say “when”
in a dream like that.  

I think to tell you about it,
you, the man actually
beside me, but you seem to be sleeping again.
Though later, as I tiptoe about the room,
you whisper, “hello Sweetie,”
here, now,
another gift.


Another draft poem!  This one for May 1. The pic above doesn’t really fit, but is an illustration (with the text omitted) from my children’s alphabet book, ABC MOBILE, this one for the letter H. 

Have a good day! 

We’d Like

April 30, 2022

We’d Like 

We’d like to just sleep. 
We’d like to just eat. 
We’d like the stars to just
shine down on us—
we’d like it all
to be simple.

We do sleep, eat.
The stars do shine down on us,
but it rarely feels simple. 

We can try to look away
but that won’t cut that connection
that binds each to all,
all of us under those stars,
wanting to eat,


Another little poem for April. Have a good day! Thanks as always for your time and kindness.


April 29, 2022


Friday brings possibilities. 

There are mystery novels that may be read
where all the unexplained
will be resolved. 

There are walks to be taken
that may veer
from the road. 

There should be time to tease you
gently, and, laughing,
to be teased.

Recrimination just might de-crimp, given
some room, and regret let itself go,
at least a little. 

As the work week cools,
self-castigation dulls, like a saturated fat that turns solid
at room temperature—solid and stolid,
and relegated to some jar
over there. 

Outside, clumps of daffodils
that have survived spring snow
hold their heads sunny-side up. 

Just writing that makes
me hungry.


Another drafty poem for April!  I know the pic doesn’t quite go, but there it is! Have a good day. 

PS – this post has been edited since first posting as I dropped the T from the Title!


April 28, 2022


She was not like other birds.  She knew that, and knew also that it might be a problem. 

So, before entering the greater world, she tried to signify that she came in peace, by wearing olive leaves on her brow.

Getting the leaves stay up there was no easy task. (Of course she could not just carry them, what with her wings.)

The webbed feet did hold the branches in place upon the ground, however, and her nose, though not a beak, was rather long for a nose—useful that.

And, of course, the teeth helped. 

So she managed, amazingly, to tear the leaves from a handy branch, and to weave a little circlet, which, when she saw her reflection in her pond’s still surface, looked rather handsome, she thought. 

But pride, perhaps, goeth before a fall. For though the crown stayed on well enough, it did not seem to get its message across so clearly—the message of peace. 

At least other birds were flying straight towards her now with intentions she could not gauge.

Yes, she was big, awkward.  So, she had been made.  She worried that they would hold that too against her. 


A little illustrated snip of a story for April.  I took down yesterday’s poem, as it just felt too grim and too graphic as the day went on.  Crazy times.  Stay well. 


April 27, 2022

This is a poem I posted in April, but took down as some of the imagery felt too graphic, and (possibly) open to misinterpretation. I’ve changed and am reposting below. Sorry for the repetition.


I need to get back to the belief that the universe loves us. 

I also need to buy shoes. 

I understand that the universe does not necessarily love us
in the way that we want to be loved;
it doesn’t care if we have a long life
or suffer pain.

Don’t get me wrong—it doesn’t want us to suffer pain.
It’s just that a universe in which trees split in the wind
and stars are born and die with fiery outcries,
may not understand pain. 

I cannot think about those tortured in the Ukraine
and I cannot not think
about them.  

Even when I don’t want the images—hands tied behind the back,
and much more horrible things—bullets through

It helps to worry about shoes. Almost none of mine will work as warmth

It’s ridiculous. Still, I imagine trying to run after a young child in sandals,
the young child someone else’s but in my care.
and I don’t think I can trust

I dream about—I don’t want to write what I dream about
for fear of imprinting it further—

How did people feel in the 1930s and 40’s,
the Great Depression, World War II? 

My mother, one of those people, once told me she kept wondering
when it would all end—
will this never end, she said she wondered, thinking that when it did at last end,
she could finally start
her own life,
a life that was ongoing all the time she waited
to start it,
and is now (as we think of life) long over,
always the universe loving her, us,
in its way.

I need to get back to that.


Another draft poem for April.  Sorry I’ve missed a few days, crazy internet issues that knocked out my momentum (such as it was!) 

Note that all these poems are drafts of a sort–of course, I’ve re-written them some, but they are poems that can probably benefit from more thought! And more thought might actually cause me to put them in the recycling bin! I appreciate your understanding!

Dream Igloo Poem

April 23, 2022

Dream Igloo Poem

I dream of a couple who live
in a igloo. 

One keeps trying to write poetry
about it.

The first lines are:
“when you asked me
to marry you,
you failed to mention
the igloo.”

Igloo doesn’t really scan, still
the poem goes on, describing how
the igloo owner promises
to keep the other always warm
with the fire that he carries
in his arms. 

They sleep, this couple, under
a throw of caribou, and depending upon
whether the dream poem is written in the first or third person,
a further cover of “me and you,” or a “tangle of
each one’s

See what I mean about scanning.
Though I know when I wake, that I could make the couplets work,
in the same way that the couple
makes the cold work.
Words can certainly be made to fit together
as well as blocks of ice, or arms
of warmth. 

Except that the meanings
might get skewed.

For in the dream the frozen house
does not symbolize distance between the couple,
or an attempt to freeze out
the world.

Mainly the igloo is just where
the couple ends up, and though they do feel the cold more
as they age, they still love the blue that radiates from
the ice bricks, like bits
of preserved sky.

They stay warm enough too,
as long as together.

In fact, the dream poem tries to end
on that note—hoping to God that they “go out
as two,
beneath that throw
of caribou,”
when, of course, the way they really hope to go
is as one.

But it’s hard to rhyme lines about dying
with words like “fun” and the various other


Another slightly weird poem for April!  Have a great weekend.