The poem will prove a stern and daunting master
to those who pussyfoot around the truth
and, weaving daisy chains from each disaster,
still fixate on their gold and glittering youth.
If you strive to disguise your fears and faults,
pretend that you are not long in the tooth,
the poem will take you with a grain of salt,
deflate your cozy notion of yourself,
and burst the seams of your airtight Gestalt.
Poems excavate foundations with cool stealth.
Like wrecking balls they swing, faster and faster,
destroying ornaments like pride and wealth
and turning solid walls to crumbs of plaster.
The poem does prove a stern and daunting master.


Snowed In

It snows and blows and blows and snows.
Flakes tumble madly to the ground
like children who, once school’s let go,
leap free and spin themselves around.
What once was sharp and angular
is blanketed with soft and kind.
Our breath turns calm and regular.
A frosty nimbus fills our mind.
The weight of white and blank will sink
all cherished purposes and plans,
as blinding sun will force a blink
or whorls of song leave you in trance.
But you won’t mourn your lost landmarks.
Why should a star bemoan the dark?



It’s nothing you imagined.
No bells are going to chime.
It’s not a noisy pageant
It’s more like slowing time
It’s less a candelabra
than a tiny flick’ring taper.
It can’t be caught on camera
and it can’t be put on paper.
It’s just a slow relaxing
into who you really are
It’s neither light nor taxing
It’s nearer than it’s far.
You’ll wreck it if you breathe too hard
or tap it – like a house of cards.


In the Swim

I plunge in water cold and clear
to glide as weightless as a fish
with fluid motions lithe and sleek,
and as I dive I disappear,
cut loose from earthly want and wish.
To learn anew to see and seek,
I slide below mad wave and chop
descend beneath slick surfaces,
ignoring pulls from shore and pier.
There are no stage sets here or props,
no boundaries or differences,
no tendencies to plan or steer.

As currents tug and buoy me,
I am a creature quite transformed:
a mermaid queen, a siren bold
a woman who knows liberty
with cooled-down skin but blood still warm
whose legends are as yet untold.


Catherine Wald’s chapbook, Distant, burned-out stars, was published in June 2011 (Finishing Line Press). Her poetry was awarded Honorable Mention in Sarah Lawrence College Writing Institute’s 2011 Gurfein Fellowship Competition and she was received a fellowship from New York Foundation for the Arts Mark 2012. Catherine has published poems in American Journal of Nursing, Chronogram, Friends Journal and Westchester Review and is author of The Resilient Writer (Persea 2004) and a translation of fiction from the French. Articles have appeared in Journal of Creative Nonfiction, Poets & Writers and Writer’s Digest.

These poems are among the entries for the Society of Classical Poets’ 2012 Poetry Competition.

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One Response

  1. AJ

    I just love poetry. There’s so much power in it; it’s like a puzzle or a painting – somehow it just works, if done correctly. Literally putting rhyme and reason together is simply amazing.

    To me, poetry is essence of the soul. Having a soul does not necessarily mean writing poetry, but writing such poetry gives forth proof of the soul. It’s – perfection, in a way. Or maybe it’s just me being cheesy. Either way, I still love poetry. (especially the few above :))


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