Thursday, February 16, 2017


Twice in my childhood I was seriously humped by dogs. Once at a family summer camp. The older girls lip-synched to “How Much is That Doggie in the Window” for Talent Night. I was given the part of The Doggie; my lines, “Ruff Ruff.” As I crawled onstage on all fours, the camp owners’ terrier, Sporty, dashed in out of nowhere and mounted me from behind, clinging and humping while I tried to scurry away.

The whole thing was a spontaneous hit. All the grownups howled.

The second time, I went with my parents for a visit to some new neighbors. We were all in the parlor having soft drinks when I heard a dog whining in the basement. René, their French Poodle, our hosts explained, wasn’t allowed to greet guests. I begged to meet their pet, not understanding their protestations. How could a French Poodle, the popular image on everyone’s swing skirt (second only to the Eiffel Tower) and the inspiration for the Poodle Cut hairdo, be a problem?

Finally the neighbors gave in and opened the basement door.  René bounded up the stairs and made a bee line for me, knocking me to the floor for some frenzied humping. While his owners scolded and tried to restrain him, I scrambled behind the sofa. René broke loose and attempted to leap over the sofa before he was caught and again exiled to the basement. René had the full poodle coiffure but his pompom ears and tail made him even more sinister.

These brief encounters, what did they mean? What was their lasting significance in my life? As I matured, and began the search for love, each Knight in my life eventually revealed his inner Fido, your basic male Homo sapiens, a pronate in search of a supinate. 

Feminism arrived, and it became normal for lovers to assume either, or both, or some variation on the classic roles and postures. But I couldn’t figure out what this acute form of attention really had to do with love. My first taste of one of life’s eternal conundrums.

What do we know that a dog doesn’t know? Aristophanes, Boccaccio, Chaucer, Shakespeare, Woody Allen: they don’t know. But they know the question is great material. Love. Lust.


 Are infinite.

Saturday, August 13, 2016


Here is a picture of myself and my high school boyfriend Gregory in August 1965. We were 17 and 19 that sailing summer. Young love grew too complex and we lost touch for decades.  Now he lives in a seacoast city near London with the ocean a mere walk away while I look out my window to see the Blue Ridge Mountains and deer grazing fallen apples in my back yard. I couldn’t imagine in 1965 I would leave our home state of Rhode Island or the shores of Narragansett Bay. Greg and I have been internet pen pals since 1999, when I discovered on Amazon his first brilliant book on popular art and culture and sent congratulations. We talked and keep on talking. I sat down when we first got in touch and jotted down a rhyming poem to honor our shared past:


A small boat bobs upon the bay
A mere speck in the tide.
Memory’s the vessel
Where youth’s dominion hides.

Love without love’s wisdom,
Love’s patience, or love’s care
Skimming over wavelets
Shimmering in the air.

Undiscovered sorrows
Just dreams, forgotten soon –
Too busy with the sunshine
Too rakish with the moon

Too full of life to know it
Too drunk with swollen kisses.
What is the stuff of paradise?
We wake to find that this is.

(copyright Cathy Larson Sky) 

 photo credit: G N Votolato

Saturday, March 12, 2016


Tonight the tempo is lashing. Ladies and lords chase an invisible fox. Inside the music I dive through choppy white water, cram notes onto the bow in random bunches. Lose phrasing. Lose connection. When Eoghan straps on his accordion (his box) there’s a change. Eoghan’s foot tap is steady. Metronomic. His fingers roam the buttons. Pleated bellows wad and stretch. 

I lean my good ear into the bank of sound, focus on Eoghan’s bandwidth. After a few measures, I’m in the flow. A friend takes the seat beside me. He’s eager. Puts his flute together, slaps its case shut. When he starts to play, he’s outside the beat. Flute’s a fluttering sparrow. He raises an eyebrow my way.  Help? But I can barely hold my own. We both start going under. Eoghan’s taking a smoke break. I shoot him a look.  Help!

Catching on, he drops his cigarette and raises the accordion to his lap. Couple of phrases, the tune’s back on track. When I mouthe thank you Eoghan holds my gaze and bows to me in courtly slo-mo. Never missing a note. When his head’s bowed, I swear I see a halo around Eoghan’s skull. Then (on the wall behind him) a golden tunnel. Ancestors stream through the ether, fine electrodes humming. 

Tuesday, September 1, 2015


This past May, my poetry won its first awards. The news came in three e-mails that felt like beams of light during the dreary 2014 winter of illness in our home. First I heard of an honorary mention, then a third place, then a first in the North Carolina Poetry Society Annual Contests. People asked where they could read the poems, but I had to wait to share them until they were published in Pinesong, Awards 2015, the annual anthology from the NCPS. Here is the first prize winner in the Thomas H. McDill Award, Lemniscates. The title is a fancy name for the eternity symbol. The poem is about apocalypse on both an individual and collective level: the beauty that comes when old patterns break apart. My journal art from 1979 seems to fit.
“In my beginning is my end” T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets


At dawn, a mule deer and her fawn graze on fallen apples; the doe senses my watching. Eyes meet and hold, then her long neck bends again to fruit.

My boot rakes rain-soaked mint growing wild by the kitchen door. Scent rises, tinged with forgiveness.

In ancient Peche-Merle caves, hand prints in red ochre and cinder dance on scorched walls. Underground pools congeal and rise, soak crevice to ceiling with bright algae.
Soft now, a dream.


Shrill cries: a legion of eagles passes overhead, blocks the sun. Grey feathers float towards earth.

Everywhere, houses begin to shake and sing with voices of the dead; dishes tumble from hutch shelves. Smash. In Africa they say of breakage: spirit has been set free. 

  Beavers dance beneath a pink moon. Smack mud with flat tails.

In the metropolis, sulfurous hell-bubbles explode. Blue arctic wind clears the stink; butterfly bushes burst the concrete, flutter with lapis, gold, orange.          
The jelly-roll land writhes: a glittering emerald serpent, a belly dancer’s sequined girdle. Fearless, children ride its waves, shouting, till nightfall.

Sun returns, a kindergarten drawing, benevolent, cheeks turnip-round. Its lemon rays warm all. No more you, me, them.


Rubble becomes art,
how we live. A kind of thick bread
fragrant with herbs.

(copyright Cathy Larson Sky 2015, first printed in Pinesong Awards 2015.)

Tuesday, June 9, 2015


Pest. Invasive species. Not only does the multiflora rose have a bad rep in these mountains, but in several states it is declared a noxious weed. Yes, it does grow like wildfire. I have read that it was originally imported in order to keep cattle enclosed without fencing, then ran rampant. A man who came here to inquire (unsuccessfully) about buying our back acreage warned that his first step would be to spray-poison the dreaded multiflora.

In spite of it all, the heart knows things which reason cannot explain. For ten miraculous days in May, the perimeter of yard and trail bloomed with wild roses in lavish and generous abundance. Always a presence in spring, the multiflora this year presented a lush, endless wall of white flowers. I had no idea a scent could bring me to tears. Could shut down my brain, open my strained heart, still tense with winter worries, and allow beauty to overwhelm, reassure, and silence.

With no more to say, here are some pictures. It's my hope you will just scroll down and enjoy being surrounded by roses.

Thursday, April 30, 2015


Spring brings transformation. Winter's inertia must be sloughed off. Like the snake who has stayed too long in one skin, we are restless. The buds that become blossoms seem to urge us to do the same. Mythology tells the story of a seal who slipped out of her skin and became human for the love of a mortal man. But her wildness will not leave her alone. Here are some lyrics I wrote in 1997. (I love rhyme though it is out of style in our century.)


Once I swam the bluest waters,
the deepest waters of the sea.
The bright sea grass caressed my skin
and colored fishes danced with me.

When the currents ran too cold
I turned my belly to the sun,
resting where the surface pools
glittered till they ran as one.

Until I saw him, white and strange
eyes that told me come away.
In my dreams he swam with me
I longed for him by night, by day.

His hands, his breath, his voice so low
the cleaving of his back so brave;
his shoulders rose just like a prow
will part the gentle swelling wave.

I beached myself upon the rocks
where longing burst my very skin.
I died in blood and salty dew
and naked, new, I joined with him.

I bathed myself in his delights
until I burst just one time more
crying, shrieking with the wind
a human child my passion bore.

I watch them walk upon the strand:
their fair heads high, their skin so pale,
born for walking, blood and bones,
their fingers splayed apart and frail.

I miss the sleekness of my fur,
the currents roiling past my fins,
the mighty power of my tail
that made the yellow sea-foam spin.

Home, I feel the call of Home.
My veins beat with the song
the brine within my blood demands;
it cannot wait for long.

Copyright Cathy Larson Sky 4/2015