Laura M Kaminski

Small hour of the morning stop, platform
bathed in yellow light and fog, grating
of the wheels on the rail. Luggage bumping

blends with footsteps up the narrow
stairwell of the sleeper, I hear the car
attendant offer extra pillow, bottled water.

Click of luggage latches snapping open breaks
the silence, then a child’s startled wail as
the train begins to move. Discomfited sobbing

settles quickly, soothed by a woman’s gentle
humming. I tiptoe in sock-feet, press my palm
against the thin compartment wall, sit quietly

on the carpet to eavesdrop on this comfort.
As I move my lips to shape the unsung words,
a father’s voice lifts, whispering soft tenor:

este niño lindo / ya quiere dormir / háganle la cuna
de rosa y jazmín / háganle la cama

this lovely child / wants to sleep / make him a cradle
of rose and jasmine / make him a bed

Laura M Kaminski
12 07 2014
In response to/inspired by Luisa A. Igloria’s “Poem with a line from Ilya Kaminsky,” ending with lines from “Arrorró mi niño.”

we face the calendar, pen in hand, readily ink
in our presumptions, as if each day’s a caravan
each hour a beast of burden to be packed with
actions and commitments, so much baggage

we try to carry on the journey, much of it
just legacy, souvenirs of habit, but we stay
too busy to take the picnic-stop, savor
the small treasures we have gathered

reaching end of day with marked-up manifest,
a cargo checklist of what’s been accomplished,
what’s deferred, this only leaves the hours
hungry, exhausted, weak, unable to bear more

so as again we’re planning, filling saddle-bags
securing bundles, this time let’s slow a bit, discard
a few things we no longer need, let go those items
whose purposes we’ve outgrown or forgotten

and when we rearrange what’s left
after this lightening, leave two of these hours
free of other baggage, open and available
for guests:

one camel for wonder,
one pony for joy

Laura M Kaminski
12 06 2014
In response to/inspired by the last line of Dave Bonta’s “Broadcast.”

I didn’t expect to be seen by anyone,
caught down by the creek, damp
and muddy knees before the dawn,

sleeves shoved up above my elbows,
both hands plunged beneath, fingers
raking sediment below the eddies —

I could offer some excuse, tell you
my wedding ring was loose upon my
finger, slipped into the water, and I’m

dredging for loop of silver, small
missing symbol of all that matters —
but that would not be the truth.

Truth is I only came to listen,
a pre-dawn prayer that’s less an act
of asking, more of waiting

for some sense of direction to reveal
itself, burn off the fog, burnish me
with sunlight’s permeating clarity,

but I’m not so good at meditation,
I’m still prone to distraction, and what’s
really happening is just small bliss:

December creek-water, cold
and almost crunchy, floating flecks
of ice that bump and scrape my wrists,

a contrast to the smoothness of stones
beneath my palms, elusive silt between
them velvety, responsive to the touch.

—Laura M Kaminski
12 04 2014
In response to/inspired by Luisa A. Igloria’s “Process.”

the house was empty when they woke
the absence a tangible thing, a raw place
where a comfortable companionship

sat content last night between them
borrowing a bit the corner of her afghan,
reading unobtrusively over his shoulder

but it slipped out before the dawn, left
the length of the breakfast table longer,
two glasses of cold orange juice, apart

in silence, they pulled on shoes, light
jackets, went down to the beach, reset
the timing of their heartbeats

to the metronome of breaking waves
returned together to together

Laura M Kaminski
12 02 2014
in response to/inspired by “Ocean view

do not tell her how to be
or how to feel, what turns to take
along a road you have not traveled —
she is walking ground as yet uncharted
hold your tongue

steady her steps

she can no longer tolerate
the travel for the harvest celebration,
the winter gathering of family —
the cutting, dragging in, the trimming
of the tree

too symbolic

she no longer opens holiday
letters, doesn’t slit the envelopes
to set warm wishes, peace to swirl —
the air around her chills, she is loosening
her tethers

Laura M Kaminski
12 02 2014
in response to/inspired by Dave Bonta’s “Morale-building exercise” and Luisa A. Igloria’s “Instructions for the long march

When the land of day is burning
and I’m cornered by the flames, choking
on the smoke of excess obligations,

I flee to the ocean’s edge and fling
myself upon the mattress-raft, unmoor
myself from the hard continent

set the sheets and trim the angle
of the pillows, lift anchor, free myself
to float, let helm spin where it will.

It does not matter whether I cross
from the wave of wakefulness to sleep,
only that I loosen my grip upon

the wheel, let the sail of my mind
swing free until she fills with dreams
again, until I’ve found the sextant

and the compass, stood again upon
the deck, sighted a star, the dog
a porpoise drifting near the hull.

Laura M Kaminski
12 01 2014
in response to/inspired by Dave Bonta’s “Sailor’s Wife” and Luisa A. Igloria’s “Harbor” on Via Negativa

I. airport geese

geese on the tarmac
look up occasionally, watch
large metal-feathered

humans set out on
migrations, sometimes wonder
if we know we’re late

II. stump 2

years pass, we know this:
all things reckon time in circles
orbit and revolve

why is it easy
for us to imagine these leaves
have always been old

III. lakeshore weeds

and why do we strive
for fortune, fame? these lakeshore weeds
are simple, common

yet they still set fruit,
array themselves in shades of gold
welcome their own end

IV. lingonberries

if we cannot, like
unassuming weeds be rooted
in humility

shift with the seasons
in time with trees and leaves and geese
perhaps we can still

share the same table,
feast with our better, wiser kin
on lingonberries

V. swirly weed skeleton

ready or not, we
will leave this place some rotation
and revolution

perhaps the question
should not be how long do we have
before departure

but whether there’s some
way for even our decaying
to be beautiful

VI. fly agaric

icebergs and mountains
volcanoes and okinamis
all share a teacher

this fly agaric
on the surface only shows us
little of itself

VII. old oil tank

it seems the carcass
of us, our species, our habits
will take centuries

more of exposure
before we grow into beauty
rancho la brea

VIII. roots

origins nurture
roots are footing and foundation,
knife spoon cup straw fork

arteries and veins
maybe change my name to Alice
take another bite

from the other side
of that fly agaric mushroom
shrink to fit, resize

to molecular
catch a piece of capillary
action, mind the gap

IX. stump

a prayer: let me age
generously, this limbless tree
both headstone and home

X. pine resin

is poetry not
a sticky sap that oozes up
through cracks in our hulls

whether we will it
or not, sometimes captures
accidentally

a small winged moment
preserves it for eternity
memory, amber

Laura M Kaminski
10 23 2014
In response to the first ten photographs in “A nature walk at the airport