Every Woman

Katrina Kaye

Every woman has
a Persephone story

because every woman
has gone through hell

at least once and many
were put there

by the men who
loved them most.

“Every Woman” is previously published in Rabbits for Luck (2016).


Katrina Kaye

This room is broken blackbird with misshapen wings.

You are cheap hotel bed sheets,
rough to the touch,
slipping too easily off the corners of a mattress
too hard for the spine.

I am crushed pomegranate seeds
popping between tongue and teeth,
a temporary stain shared on lips.

These gestures are swollen feet and strained nerves.

The pressure of thumb
on throat as we take this kiss
is assurance your intentions
are not to break me.

We slide and sling like cocktails and olives,
one sipping off the other
until we are both helpless.

The cuss of your breath on my neck,
and the pinch of thumb on thigh,
conjures dread for the morning’s rippling cold.

These window panes are splitting sunrises
and eleven am check outs.

While you rise, I retrace promises you carved in
tender flesh of eyelids and inner arm.

Pretending to sleep, I listen,
with hands curled under chin,
the sounds of your departure.

You have dug a trench inside me
from gut to gullet.

You fill me there.

“Hotel” is previously published in the collection, my verse…, published by Swimming with Elephants Publications, LLC in 2012.

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A Letter to Myself at 16

Katrina Kaye

It feels like Friday,
but it has really only just begun.

And it’s gonna get worse.

There are going to be days
when you will scream at the walls,
when you will lie on the cold tile of bathroom floors
begging for the world to shrug from its atlas.

There are going to be nights so pitch
your face will ripple rage
and you will plead the moon for sacrifice,
to take all that you are.

But the moon won’t.

Precious lives will rip untimely from your arms
leaving you grasping at sunflowers in November.

More painful though,
are the ones you leave behind.

Right now,
you think you can save the world,
repair the cracks they carved into themselves,
You believe you have the thread to mend the lost
like broken kites and make them fly,
but one day you’ll realize
the only person you can save is yourself.

And you will,
you’ll save yourself.

You’re going to walk out of the darkest caverns
on sturdy feet without a guide,
and you’re going to leave behind the insects;
the ones who spun sticky webs of regret.
They will not have you.

you will not always be this angry.
The fists you pump against the night sky will tire.
You will realize
you have nothing to prove.

You will emerge from the storm,
though it may leave you gasping,
beaten, clinging,
you will survive,
and panting on the shore of battered beach
you will rise.

Mingled in the moments of bleak,
emerge utter joy and peace.
You will wake up beside it on a September morning,
and spend the night laughing
and singing with it around bonfires.
You’ll have lovers and friends
and fleeting moment when you feel truly alive
and it will be worth it.

You will know contentment.

Your jeans may still have holes in the knees,
and you will continue to feel too much
and give too much of yourself.
There will be plenty of moments when
you will still pray for the eventual apocalypse.

But evolution does have a course.
You’ll quit smoking,
several times.
You’ll form creases around your lips
and webs around your eyes,
some from laughter,
others from grimace.
Wisdom will come in the form of clever phrases,
and patience will embed itself into your heart.

You don’t know what it means
to truly love another person right now,
but you will,
and someday you will also know how to give that love freely, without bounds.

And yes, darlin’,
though it may take you kicking and screaming,
you will shed this adolescent skin,
you will grow up.

It may be scary at first,
but you will realize, it’s alright.
There is a person you are meant to be.

One day the scars will heal
and you will replace them with garlands of orange daisies.
There is gonna be someone who thinks the heavens of you
for nothing more than exactly what you are,
the person you came to be.

One day,
you will stand solitary in the barren desert
but no longer feel alone.

One day
you will look in the mirror and accept your smile,
recite poetry instead of curse words,
find the beauty of tattered dandelions
and the pure tragedy of perfection.
You will no longer be ashamed of your reflection.

One day, you will stop hating yourself.
It’s gonna take a while,
so hold on;

You will get there.

“A Letter to Myself at 16” is previously published in September (2014).