Posted tagged ‘Karin Gustafson poetry’

Why I Often Get Up at 5 (Or a Little Before)

April 18, 2022

Why I often get up at 5 (Or a Little Before)

No one can expect anything from you
at this hour. 

Maybe there are things you should
be doing, but, hey—it’s 5
in the morning!

You could even make dinner
(you know, in advance),
but no one will think to say
why didn’t you make dinner? 

You could do office work, and those times
when you give in, smugness coats
each email like
an underscore.

You do at last make yourself budge from the blanket
you save for these dawn hours in a small not-totally-freezing room,
and find that the morning moon
is in a completely different quadrant of the sky
than seems the norm.  Seriously!
It’s veered way over
to the South.  (Definitely, South.)  But how
does that happen? 

You could look it up.  

Looking it up is the type of thing many people (i.e. your husband)
would do, but it’s still only 6:09 and he’s asleep,
while you are not even going to let yourself
feel embarrassed
by your lack of intellectual curiosity.

(Okay, okay:  so, the reason that the moon changes position in the sky
is that the moon’s orbit around the Earth
is approximately 5.1 degrees offset from the Earth’s orbit around the Sun,
which causes moonrise and moonset to vary to the North or South by as much
as 28.6 degrees.)

Are you happy now? 



The moon, in fact, set way to the South today, and was full, or almost full.  I did not get a photo of it though, so here’s a pic from my children’s books, The Road I Like.  (The pic doesn’t really suit the poem, as this poet is, thankfully, no longer a commuter!)

Have a good day.  (And check out The Road I Like!)  (Also, the moon!)

Easter Morning

April 17, 2022

Easter Morning

I could not sleep last night after reading
about what happened to a body
in Ukraine, before that body died.

There’s sickness here too (if not the same.)

But it’s Easter and I get up to tune the computer to boys’ singing
about the resurrection.  

The songs make me weep almost instantly,
as all my dead rise
to greet me. 

I weep both because of my certainty that those one loves
are never lost, and because of my longing for
that certainty,

weep too for the suffering, and the wish
for the healing of suffering.

And then the day begins, limpingly. It doesn’t really feel like Easter,
until, between the feeding of animals
and almost burning
someone’s cream of wheat,
I turn to a soprano who knows
that her redeemer liveth, 

and find in the beauty of her voice, her smiling but determined
a saving grace, 

helped along by the sun shining through clouds, and a texted photo
of a baby in an elephant dress,
being held to stand—

They do not take away
what happened to the body
that I read about, or what happens
to any body,

but they say that there is love also, even
at the doorway of loss,
love that rises again,
though it may need to be held
to stand. 


Happy Easter, Happy Passover.  Another drafty poem for April.  Wishes for All Good. 

Spring Comes

April 14, 2022

Spring Comes

The air feels suddenly as if it’s taken a warm bath and not yet
towel-dried.  Your skin wants
 to roll around with that air, your skin feels wanton—
it will do almost anything
with that air,

like the tree frogs that now wheedle
from the woods, so anxious
to be chosen—
take me, take me, me, me—


Here’s a very little poem for April 14. As always, pic and poem are mine; all rights reserved. Have a good day!

A Thing About Word Games In Hard Times

April 13, 2022

A Thing About Word Games In Hard Times

The good thing about a word game
is that it occupies your mind,
fills the brain like a picture
in which you find

the hidden objects, the candle
that looks like a bed post,
the hour glass disguised
as a crust of toast—

Such puzzles take up space
and if done fast,
make words like “blood” or “puddle”
pass in a flash, 
as you move on to the next
word, clue, combination—
a way of avoiding thinking
about abomination—

But, when those who head
armies, parties, states,
play so very heartily,
the charm abates—

the “hidden objects” now bodies;
words like “puddle” and “blood”
not flashing by, but huddling
in yards and streets, a flood

of the unspeakable. Lies, slurs, and
misdirection by the hour.
oh, what games are played
in the name of power. 


Another poem for April, and all going on.  Very much a draft.  (This poem is not really about the subway attack in Brooklyn, but my heart goes out to my very dear New York City, all the brave people there who have put up with so much.)

Would note in passing that the poem is also not just about Putin’s comments on the Ukraine (though obviously the picture is oriented towards that) but all kinds of misdirection everywhere—

Have a good day.

Just Then

April 12, 2022

Just Then

There was a bluebird,
just when I needed him.
Sky backed, cloud-bellied.


Another little poem for April. All rights reserved. Have a great day.

April in North Country

April 11, 2022

April in North County

It’s still too cold to rush
into the dawn, the clear blue cold too old
for me to want a fresh experience of it.  

Though I know it is a different clear blue cold
than March’s, or February’s, or early
December’s, still, 

I’ll let it sit over there
on the other side
of the window, while I sit here
beneath a blanket, waiting
for Spring.

Yes, I’d probably find it faster
on foot; it’s my guess that Spring anoints the shivering
more briskly than those under blankets;
imbues the bold
with a fresh and lively damp,
but I’ll just camp here
for the moment.


Little poem for April 11.  The above is a picture from one of my favorite children’s books, Snail Taxi.  (I’m not sure that Snail Taxi takes place in April but I like the pic.)  Snail Taxi is not yet on Amazon, but is available on Blurb here.  Check it out—it is a very sweet little book (and I think it’s on sale right now!)

Have a good day!

Ode to Old Mystery Novels

April 10, 2022

Ode to Old Mystery Novels 

Oh, mystery novels of old
whose plots escape me so readily
that I can re-read them so steadily,
with even greater mild delight
in the details that bring to light
the epiphanies to come
(ah, I remember now)—
how the hero/heroine will sum
up all the side stories, save
the complicated day—

Oh little time capsules with a couch,
sinkholes of possibly otherwise troubled hours—-little bowers of
wrongs righted (and so cozily!)

I can even walk, reading you—
and if someone talks to me, say completely unselfconsciously, “huh?”


Poem for April 10.  Have a good day!

Time Poem

April 9, 2022
Time Flies


I think about time
and picture a stream bed,
in which I put my hands to catch something—the water?
Sand?  Minnows—

All I get is glow—
my hands wet in the flow—you can’t stop time, hold it—
even when you wade right in—it only makes
your whole body shine (maybe) for as long
as you can stand
the rush.

But often, I avoid thinking about time, as if that might make
time stop.
I spend hours, whole days, weeks,
in a little moving box that tries to blank out time, blanketing
its windows (my little moving box has cut-out squares)
but time doesn’t stop
just because I’ve not thought about it—

And then I picture time as sand, endlessly falling sand—(that comes, I guess,
from hourglasses) and why
I wonder, do I imagine the fall of that sand
to be endless?


Another draft poem for April.  As always, pic and poem mine.  All rights reserved.  Stay well!


April 8, 2022


When my mother was very old she would push back her hair
from her forehead. 

Actually, the white hair, ascending from a widow’s peak, was already trained

But she would pass one hand over it again
and again,
talking of how she loved her mother to do that
when she was small, and how comforting it was (she had recently realized)
to rub the hair back herself. 

I find my hand at my forehead in the pre-dawn darkness, 
reaching for a pass over my hair, but I do not find
it comforting—

though I too loved my mother caressing my forehead
when I was little, loved laying my head upon her lap.
This was usually in the car—we did not have car seats then,
and it was a time
when she was still.

Even just thinking of it, I can remember
the cool warmth of her hands, her lap—
that’s how it was, cooling and warming at once
as we hovered above the roll
of wheels and road.

But this morning the feel of my hand at my forehead
freaks me out; I cannot be so like my old mother
not now, not yet.
I pull the hand back beneath the covers and even when I tell myself
to just try it, try it again, I cannot make myself lift my arm.

Give it twenty years,
(if lucky.) 


Another draft poem for April.  Not sure about these things.  Sometimes I cut them in ways that they are probably not comprehensible to others and that’s terrible; other times I feel like I go on too long, and lose clarity in too much explication.  Agh! 

Take care.  (As always, pic/poem are mine; all rights reserved.)

About Face

April 7, 2022

About Face

The man is angry; his face looks like it just
spat a slur,
the face looks that way a lot, sneer-shaped,
chin a smear—seriously, his chin is blurred in its firm set,
like the tip of something spray-painted
on a concrete

How do you smooth
such a face? With cash?
With fear? 

How do you whisper in a way that it will hear:
you were a baby once,
you will die some day,
you are causing
terrible suffering. 

Can you only threaten, tell the face it too
will suffer?

I don’t know, I don’t know. 

Can you remind the face of beauty? 
That it belonged to a baby once, a child (this feels somehow
that geese fly in incredible Vs;
that an unwounded sky pearls wonder.


Another draft poem for April. The pic doesn’t really go with the poem, but I don’t have a lot of drawings of angry faces, or couldn’t find one on the fly. I’m not sure that this picture depicts the figure in the poem, but it felt okay to use. All rights reserved. Take care.