Cathryn Shea’s poetry is forthcoming or has recently appeared in Absinthe Poetry Review, Bitchin’ Kitsch, Dirty Chai, Eunoia, Gargoyle, Gravel, Main Street Rag, Permafrost, Yellow Chair Review, and elsewhere. Her chapbook, Snap Bean, is by CC.Marimbo (2014, Berkeley). Cathryn is in the 2012 anthology “Open to Interpretation: Intimate Landscape.” She is a past editor and adviser for Marin Poetry Center Anthology and is the author of dozens of software and database manuals (sometimes confused with creative non-fiction). Cathryn lives in Fairfax, CA and spends part of each day watching over a covey of California quail.
Announcements of fresh fires
rain down like phantom embers
on the asbestos roof tiles
of a tract home on the outskirts
of the town. We once lived here before
the bank dispersed the mortgage
to a continent that ingests
the nest eggs of the provincial.
Our festival of wine and pastels
tried to paint the heavens
with fun for the day
which was daylight-savings long
and heat-drenched, filled with a sun-
willed hope that was maybe denial
of news unfolding regardless
in recycled paper and retold narratives
of lack or surplus and cheer or war.
We keep hearing of new fires
devouring the familiar. Cause
forever a mystery. We all agree
we’ll start over with strange bricks.
Collapsible Apologia for Bad Forecasts
Imagine this is still the late nineties,
the floods and droughts of this millennium
yet to happen, the booms and busts
a toothed wheel of chance
grinning in our circadian casino,
spinning with loaded dice.
There is a stubborn drive
in the lineage, with us even in our kitchen
where we microwave unfertilized eggs.
We see the female quail scratching the dirt
that hasn’t baked yet in the noon sun.
Its chicks flightless at concrete steps.
In frenzied hunger the chicks can’t see
the raven’s rushed movement,
our apologia tucked away
in the DNA of ancestors, witness
to a savage beauty. The plea for sustenance
answered in one swoop.
The parent quail circle, helpless against
threats in their periphery. We are
clumsy in our desiccated forecasts
which alter with each flirtation
with weather and economies.
Our belief wavers,
folding away for another blame
and remainder of the week
of a bejeweled, thieving month.
The half-lives of perceptible eons
kept in the changeless state
we would like to call fact.