C Kubasta thinks poetry, like humor, porn, & horror, should be a body genre. Her favorite rejection (so far) noted that one editor loved her work, and the other hated it. Her poetry has appeared in So To Speak, Cosmonauts Avenue, Construction, Tinderbox Poetry Review and The Notre Dame Review, among other places. She is the author of two chapbooks: A Lovely Box (Finishing Line Press) which won the 2014 Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets Chapbook Prize, and &s (Finishing Line, 2016); and a full-length collection, All Beautiful & Useless (BlazeVOX, 2015). Her next book, Of Covenants, is forthcoming from Whitepoint Press in 2017.
She teaches English and Gender Studies at Marian University, in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, where she is active with the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets, and works with Brain Mill Press. She lives with her beloved John, cat Cliff, and dog Ursula. Find her at ckubasta.com.
A Lovely Box, Finishing Line Press, 2013, order here.
Long Exposure, Small Aperture/ The Reciprocity Error of Film
The sun-warmed asphalt driveway releases its heat
back to us, through layers of sleeping bag, as we
wait for the first blur in the sky. Tiny and singular, but once
we notice one, we see them
I cannot describe the perfect bruises and bite marks on your arm, but Elizabeth Bishop could.
Once, someone block planted this woodlot, so the trees
grow in uncanny symmetry; watching from the backseat,
the trees flicker like an old projector.
A stand of young birches glows
Even the underbrush has a tinge of red, copper-colored
leaves unable to fall, the pinking tamarack bark, the lichen
and red soil peeking through snow,
melt and freeze.
The Perseids fall, and my mother perches
with her camera, splayed tripod, shutter open for hours. Sometimes
our father would lay with us, point out the bats swooping
for insects. We
try to stay up all night, wake to dew fallen –the camera, our mother, our father
In the woodlot, a man walks, gun slung easy
over his shoulder; the dog courses –the two of them
in perfect grace.
The car may stop
abruptly, for deer or turkey. I may recognize
Ship Rock, climbed with my two brothers; the four-way stop
at Ray’s Closeouts, where I used to go with my then
best friend, before whatever happened happened.
The Only Woman in the Bar
All the men stop talking. I hear “women” and “naked.”
My friend says they were talking about the dangers of wolves.
Perhaps her mother was excessively fond of her(1). Or her grandmother doted on her still more.
These small-town men are my fathers, my brothers, my brothers’ best friends. I know them
under their beards, their layers of natural and synthetic fibers.
There were no wolves. But we want there to have been –it makes for a better story.
The poor child did not know it was dangerous to stay and talk to a wolf. The woman was no child.
Repeated press releases insist: there were no tracks, no bites, no signs of predation. There was only a woman, naked, dead in the parking lot of a local store that sold sundries, and foodstuffs, and beer.
By “we” I mean those men in the bar. But back in 1697, Perrault knew by “wolves” he didn’t mean wolves. The men in the bar are unaware.
By “we” I sometimes mean “I.” Who doesn’t love a good story?
The wolf cried out to her, softening his voice as much as he could. We can elide the middle part, the confusing part, the undressing part, the getting into bed.
Arms & Legs & Ears & Eyes & Teeth
By “we” I include Witness #40. The DA admitted, “Well, early on, I decided that anyone who claimed to have witnessed anything was going to be presented [ . . .] if I didn’t put those witnesses on, then we’d be discussing now why I didn’t put those witnesses on. Even though their statements were not accurate.”
The men in the bar stop talking. They might say it was out of courtesy, respect. An exaggerated politeness –it is what their mothers taught them. But I (as part of the “we”) know fear when I see it.
I say “wolf,” but there are various kinds of wolves.
We (and “I” am a part of this) enjoy the hunt. Sometimes it is as simple as Put the cake and the little pot of butter upon the stool, and come get into bed with me.
Sometimes it is as simple as a slightly long look.
Sometimes it is as simple as a tapping on the shirt, the quilted shooter’s patch, the reinforced pocket with button closure, and saying nothing.
Defenselessness is strong defense, the best offense.
There are always tracks in the snow; the snow makes what is always there visible.
Saying nothing is really saying, “Come and be defenseless with me.”
(1) All italics from a version of Perrault’s “Little Red Riding Hood,” in Lang’s The Blue Fairy Book, 1889