Kika Dorsey grew up in South Bend, Indiana, and now resides in Boulder, Colorado. Her poetry has been published in numerous journals, and her chapbook, Beside Herself, was published by Flutter Press in 2010. Her book, Rust, is coming out next year with Word Tech Editions.
Follow this link to read a recent poem published in the Dr. T.J. Eckleburg Review, "In Berlin":
You are climbing the ash tree,
wrapping your arms around the thick branches,
kicking up your legs above them,
rough bark against the inside of your knees,
another swing of an arm.
The tree stretches across the universe
into the nine worlds
from the dark earth and your breasts
and the needs and the asking and loss,
and these branches wrap around a home,
where the meth addicts cook
fertilizer, battery acid, and antifreeze,
that home in Indiana
where the three small farmers lost their land
and work long hours now at meat-packaging plants
for minimum wage,
and the hands that held corn
are now covered in latex gloves and blood,
and their mouths are bitter with meth,
and they are always high.
You planned to jump to the ground
on the other side of the house, the backyard,
where the tree bends,
to leave the gossipy squirrel
and the eternally gnawing dragon at the roots
and the arrogant eagle in the canopy.
April touches the lawn with green,
the dog sniffs the periphery,
and the gray skies are moody on your back.
But you cannot jump.
There are no branches below you to climb down,
and you would break a leg,
so you have to retrace your climb
and descend to where you started,
in the front of the white home with peeled paint
and windows framed in orange,
in the country where corn and soybean grow,
now sprouting green and lying on flat land
like an ironed sheet,
to the threshold in the front yard,
with its hoses curled like snakes.
The front door beckons you into its interior
where despair lives like a virus,
and you must find the right medicine,
wash the sheets, open the windows,
sponge the sweat off faces and brew tea,
and then you can go to the backyard,
where the dog sniffs the periphery,
and April stands at your guard like a sentry
in the moody skies, and you walk,
barefoot on the soft ground,
earth moist and drinking roots,
to the gate that opens like a mouth
so you can walk out of that body,
that home of grief.
Mother’s Little Helper
I swallowed the tiny, white pills
in the cave where my bones lie
stripped of flesh and I,
my heart wrapped in the cotton of the South
with its pesticides and its soil of slaves’ footprints
and my father’s cracked capsule of skull,
collect the white drugs
to bring to the white field
in the white light of a burning sun.
I plant my drugs like seeds in rows
in the deep South where the wild azalea grows,
sewing them under churning skies
with my staggered breath,
my breath of grief.
I watch sleep grow in me like a spreading sea
while my children balance on the lines of grids,
that map they drew for them
when the harvest filled our plates
and the world beckoned
with its checklists and rubrics and laws.
I keep my pills
in a red bottle behind the mirror
where my face threatens to break
and my father flies out of the cracks of my blue eyes
like the mockingbird singing a foreign song
atop its speckled eggs,
its belly as white as my drugs.
I weave the cotton of Tennessee
where I trudge to Memphis,
where the Wolf and the Mississippi rivers merge
and they sing the blues,
its sleepy notes my unwrapped heart,
my soft tapestry I store in the belly of the boats
that they asked me to ride in the rough waters,
even though I know how to swim.
I used to hang them on my bedroom wall as a child,
posters of horses,
the one above my bed of a bay Thoroughbred
with shiny flanks prancing
in a bright green pasture.
I have known horses.
Lucky, my first quarter horse,
who went lame at the age of three
from a congenital hoof disease.
Sandy, with her incessant bucking,
her rust-red coat like Utah’s mesas.
Later Ahab, with his Saddlebred gait
and eyes of fire,
and black Andy,
who bit you if you touched his ears.
I have known
the feel of my legs wrapped around a body,
the rhythm like surf carrying me
across the ocean’s madness,
where my father lay green
in mental hospitals,
shellacking hickory jewelry boxes for me
with images of horses grazing.
I have known
the rocking gallop up mountains,
my hands releasing the bit,
the horse beneath me
deciding where to go
in a terrain of rock and snow.
I have groomed Dancer,
his gray coat like clouds,
only to watch him roll in dust
as I carried the rust
of the broken Midwest
and the torn and shredded walls
of my childhood home.
I have known horses,
and I have known the dance with closed eyes
and no choreographer
and horses have known me.
They have carried me across grief,
their bodies shattered warm sun
and clouds of rolling muscles
across tempestuous sky.