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


Wednesday, March 25, 2015


I don’t like March. First of all, the name.


It’s a one word imperative sentence.
I see a mean sergeant in a field, whistle hanging round his neck. He’s shouting at me, the overweight, winter-worn GI trying to rouse myself from the deep sludge of January and February, my uniform bursting its buttons, my fly stopped halfway in its tracks by flab.

I am not up for Marching. I can’t. In fact, I’ve just been able to start walking without a cane. I’m Persephone, just back from her abduction by a convalescence-comfortable sofa and a wide screen. The trim physical therapist explains that my leg muscle cells aren’t smooth anymore. They are more like a mushed up bowl of spaghetti. 
Along Highway 19, metal beasts have surfaced from the underworld. Uprooted grey trees litter the hillsides with amputated limbs, twisted fingers. A rural two-lane must double its size. Businesses and houses disappear, leaving in their places red mud flats indented with Caterpillar tracks. Traffic backs up for half a mile, from Li’l Smoky’s Barbecue to the junction of 19. Tempers flare.

I am not ready for this. The trees are starting to bud. There is a jar of daffodils on my kitchen sill. Still, I long for the white isolation of winter, for the cold, for the sense that the world can wait, because it has to. Give me some pale green days of April. Don’t push me, and I May. I love the sound of May. Full of possibility, no pressure. Just make a choice or even choose not. May gives you permission, like a door swinging wide.
The dog barks, her beagle-bugle sounding the arrival of a large vibrating truck. The floorboards in the bathroom quake; in the bedroom, the roaring continues followed by monotonous back-up beeping. Then it starts: the drone of power saws, a cartoon dentist drill amplified by a wall of speakers. 
Obviously our neighbors have a Spring project going on. I go to the cupboard for ibuprofen to head off the migraine that’s creeping up my neck like a tight hood. Light hurts my eyes. I wish I were a mole burrowed in the loamy quiet ground, listening to a neighboring flower stretch itself cautiously, patiently toward the sun.

 cathy larson sky    2015