Tag Archives: memory

A Poem for Writing a Poem

Whatever comes to mind when
you see the word

Whatever comes to mind when
you write the word

Whatever comes to mind when
the sign says

When the sign says
No Exit.

Whatever comes to mind when
you stand outside
as the evening falls early
in November.

When you wake just before first light.

When the summer sun on your neck
reminds you of
the last summer you saw her.

Whatever comes to mind when you think
about chocolate.

About coffee.
About whiskey.
About the small of his back.

Whatever comes to mind when
You write the word

When you say the word

Whatever comes to mind
when you look down the long alley.

When the moon rolls above you
and the forsythia blooms as you sleep.

– Copyright Kay Winter

Readers: I’d love for you to take the prompts in the poem and write your responses (any, all) in the comments. Do a simple list, write your own poem, whatever you like!

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What wind blew me back here
from where I was
I don’t know
except it was raining there, too.

I came from late June
and the rain had a green edge
that also meant thunder
and lightning that would crack
over the neighbor’s cottonwood trees.

But the place I have come to
is as I remembered.
Autumn, woods,
the wide cold lake
blending into the sky
through the wet black branches.

I am stopped,
dumbstruck on the trail,
by the leaves in a clearing
fallen and aflame
the fire of them burning
the brighter for being wet.

And the wind,
maybe it is the same June wind,
blows the rain through the air
to this clearing.
I stand on muddy earth
in a time-hollowed place
that I will come back to
as I have done.

And my hands are wet,
I think, they are wet.
And it is June again
and the patio chairs must be tipped
against the table before I go inside
to close the upstairs windows.

And can I ask you,
can I,
where are you now?
Do you have such places
that you go to?

And what is the call of now
but an echo through us
that says
and calls back

– Copyright Kay Winter

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Kid Pool

She remembers the pale
bubbles under the water
of the kids pool
the endless and lax summer
she spent in Phoenix
to stay with her aunt.

Now, standing in her sedate black suit,
on the deck of a business hotel pool
somewhere in Dallas,
she smells pool water splashed
across hot concrete.
And she is five,
and hiding in water,
and she misses
her mother
the same way now.

– Copyright Kay Winter

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August Meeting

The two heads of white hair
bow over knees
and still, wrinkled hands
resting on gray kimonos.

On the same day in early August
they meet at Kofukuji shrine
to share silence
in the open room
facing the garden
of small blue flowers.

The wind catches
the temple bell.

– Kay Winter

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Collage Poem: White Beach


I went into a white sky
over a white beach.

Out farther
out at sea
a blue current
on a postcard with a picture
someone else took
long before I arrived.
– Copyright Kay Winter

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Collage Poem: Our Pasts We Harvested

Collage of separate images

Our pasts we harvested
like summer leaves turned golden.
Our golden eyes reflecting their leopard

We were lighted by the harsh God of winter:
white blindness
and the orange fires of evening rest.

Summers, we sea-dove into green waves
and white curls
and ate pepper so hot
the sun melted down our shoulders.

We took long drinks from green glasses
and traveled
the waterway length of our days,
smelling the distant
scarlet gardens of the shore.

We contained clarity
like glass held
against the changing sky.

We were awake every morning
with orange hope
like heavy-hanging fruit
outside an open window.

-Copyright Kay Winter

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Moment: Moment After

Not the moment:

the moment after.

An undecided moment:
undecided as the light of the
late winter afternoon.
An unawere moment:
unaware of what I knew
like what the chaplain had said,
where I parked the car,
how I’ll Be Home for Christmas
had been playing softly in my head
for days,
the chipped patch of yellow paint
on the radiator
(all I remember seeing).
Not the moment:
the moment after.

An impossible moment:
impossible as how
I could hold
both all the past
and all of the coming absence.
Copyright Kay Winter

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Uncertain Weather

We met when we were uncertain weather
and unfound lucky pennies.

An uncertain season
of rain through sun,
and smooth gray clouds lingering
low in the sky.

I did one certain thing.

I left you behind.

You, not strong enough for what was coming.
(Or was it me, sparing myself
the trouble of you.)

The weather this winter
blows sleet
over the bare trees of the park
I see from my window
(my only).

Years ago, before I knew you,
before I had to think of you,
I spent a year of Novembers
waiting in that park,
reading The House of Seven Gables
by streetlight,
while crows circled high in the pale air.

Now, from this window,
(my only)
I see the same crows,
settling in the dark empty windows
of the chapel across the green.

I leave the window open
to let the sound of the wind
drown out the drip of time.

I ask this:

When my crow comes
and settles on the sill
and speaks my bright simple name,
let me step over,
from do, to having done, to being over it.

Copyright Kay Winter

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I remember bits of the movie we watched
when we were all home together
that last college summer:
the boy, the bicycle, the wide-headed creature
with long fingers.

Back at school,
each time I’d catch sight
of my recklessness in a mirror,
I’d mouth “phone home” to the reflection.

We did call home,
for years after that,
from dorms, bus stations,
scattered apartments,
gas stations off interstates:
I am coming Tuesday,
we are almost there,
I have two whole weeks,
can you come get me at six?

But gradually,
our visits became less frequent,
shorter, hurried.

I remember one later year,
the melancholy days after Christmas,
standing in the rain,
in front of the colored lights
in a hometown window,
no one left in town but me,
thinking of a distant desk by a window,
realizing that I had made my own home,
and there would be my returning.

Copyright Kay Winter

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Thousands of Words

Let the clouds
be the words
of another language
that neither of us know,
so that somewhere,
distant from here
(where we must be),
will be all the thousands of words
that we shall never speak.

In that place, in that other language,
let there be other words
for greeting after long absence,
for the end to loneliness,
for the cool skin of your neck,
for how you pause before you laugh,
for my sense of you
walking by my side,
for traveling toward someone.

Let these words fall
into the open throat of the sky,
to be spoken elsewhere,
in this other language,
for we may not say them here.

– Copyright Kay Winter

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