Anna Cates | Selected poems

THE EMPTY URN

how large the moons seems
sinking low on the horizon
as if weighted by all our sorrow
to ride the mountain’s back
voiceless
silhouette like Quasimodo

the hump lasts only a minute
then lets go
surrendering to dusk

how strange
our twilight beginnings
and final demise
ending in the same apothecary blues
flecked with stars

we open with a flower’s softness
take the rain
harden like an iceberg
then slowly melt
swallowed again by seas
returning from whence we came
ashes to ashes
dust to dust

how strange our silence
we always believe we’ll go on
and yet we’re never too sure

***

THE ESCHATOLOGIST

After the apocalypse, the man who awaited Christ
Combs through ruined Armageddon, a ghost town,
Seeking survivors, finding mostly rubble, bodies diced.

Now, naked to the heavens, a demented heist—
After the apocalypse, the man who awaited Christ—
The giver and the gifted, blessed twice?

A soldier in death’s rapture, yet he’s lost his crown—
After the apocalypse, the man who awaited Christ
combs through wasted Armageddon—a ghost town.

***

THE TREES IN WINTER (a triolet)

Even sages do not know the secrets the dead keep
Why naked branches stretch yet never reach the heavens
This forbidden knowledge the perishing reap—
But even the wisest do not know the secrets the dead keep
Some long to simply fall asleep—others hope and weep
Trust in talismans or test their luck in threes or sevens
Even the wisest do not know the secrets the dead keep
Why haunted branches stretch yet never reach the heavens

 ***

THE IMAGE OF MIGRATING GEESE (a triolet)

The image of migrating geese is transitory—
forests fogged in nebulous silence.
Humanity in all its wretchedness and glory
learns each fleeting image is transitory.
Ephemeral facades strut and fret, telling the story
of peaceful decline or sudden violence.
These phantasmagorias are transitory—
forests fogged in the astounding silence.

***

OF HONEYSUCKLE & GARGOYLES (a triolet)

Ghosts lurk in the old castle
Honeysuckle wild across the bower
Where Hamlet strut and fret away his hour
Ghosts lurk in that old castle
Fortune’s fool—to fate a vassal
Doom—beneath the gargoyle’s glower
Ghosts lurk in that old castle
Honeysuckle rank across the bower

***

IN DARK WOODS (a triolet)

nothing left of the moon, yet the dam* howls
in dark woods, crimson drifts in autumn leaves
watchful, the golden orbs of a horned owl
nothing left of the moon, yet the dam howls
a shapeless trespasser where night shadows prowl
at the moment of death, how the breast heaves
nothing left of the moon, yet the dam howls
in dark woods, crimson spills like autumn leaves

* a she-wolf

Anna Cate’s poems have appeared in Abyss & Apex, Codex, Blueline, Frogpond, Specs, Yarn Review, Matter Press, The MOON, and other venues.  She has been awarded first place in the Caribbean Kigo Kukai Contest, first place in Cattails Samurai Haibun Contest, and Ohio Poetry Day, and has also been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. 

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