Photo of Mom on the Beach 1950
(from "Her Own Language")
If Picasso were here he would paint
the roundness of your breasts refracting
as though half in water the heat
would rise and blur dizzy views
into beautiful angles
He would name his work
A Series of Revolutions in Broken Light
Kerouac jazzed by your rhinestone shades
would take a piece of summer igniting
words so inflammably pure
they would spark a syncopated beat
You stare at the glint from the water
as the horizon snips and burns hard
It’s the calm of a slower beauty leaving
the day scattered where noises rearrange
and re-enter the voice of water
listening you hear your own heart
I find myself leaning toward
dark strands of hair that wind
around your finger into the inner parts
of your arms the comfort of your touch
If you look hard into the sand Mom
you’ll see the imprints of my knees writing
me into this poem securing my place near you
If you dig deeper you will find bloodstained stones
unborn children surrounding you like silent flowers.
Your hands belong to naked air & snapdragons
who will need your touch Soon you will want
an honest garden where you will weep for bruised
flowers you will feel the absence of the space
they were drinking
If you had Picasso’s eyes or Kerouac’s tongue
you could keep the diamonds splashing to your feet
But how can you know what your reflection offers
when the earth is content with its own image
and the only news is water?
©Kathleen Strafford 2017
Kathleen Strafford is originally from Ohio, USA. She gained an MA from Leeds Trinity University, UK, in 2017. Her poems have appeared in numerous anthologies and webzines, including Panoply, Algebra of Owls; Clear Poetry; Fat Damsel; Tom and Stan Wick; The Interpreter's House;Inspiring Futures; Cinnamen Press's Reaching Out and Ilkley Festival Anthology. Her debut collection 'Her Own Language' was published in January 2018. Kathleen is an editor for the newly launched webzine 'Runcible Spoon' and will start a poetry open mic night in Morley, Leeds in September 2018. Kathleen is also an artist and musician.
HER OWN LANGUAGE
Her Own Language
by Kathleen Strafford
39 poems, 57 pages
Perfect bound Paperback
Listen to Kathleen on radio in Ohio on this Soundcloud recording:
This is Kathleen Strafford's first collection, and it has received enthusiastic reviews.
Praise for "In Her Own Language" (To read the whole review, please go to "Reviews of our Books")
"As her cover art shows, she is a visual as well as verbal artist, and the themes of her poetry, and its style, consistently respond to and use images, seen and then reflected on. She takes as ekphrastic prompts not only painters and sculptors from among the canon (Picasso, Van Gogh, Rodin) but personal photographs and remembered snapshots of life. This synthesis of elevated high art and the minutiae of family histories reveals her as a highly observant poet, whose imagery finds that fine balance between rare and accessible."
- Hannah Stone
"Kathleen Strafford’s Her Own Language is jazzy with nostalgia, jiving its way through sex, love and death by way of wet dreams and weird asides – to use her phrase, ‘the delirium of beautiful things’. Its breezy tone disguises darker ideas: a sister is ‘a girl who needs/ a winter jacket/ but keeps stumbling/ into a closet where/ men are empty/ overcoats’. A car accident involving a cat has a very intriguing twist indeed. With its unexpected rhythms and its elegies and exaltations, this is a collection that’s simply great fun to read."
– Bill Greenwell
"Strafford's poetry sings to women. It is perceptive and challenging. The words just seem to flow from her, forcing the emotions to erupt. It is rhythmic and beautifully poignant. It is laugh out loud and deeply moving. It is life and death. Love these poems."
– Liz Mistry
From the instinctive communicative energy of the passionate child who scribble(s) on each page, to the mature scrutiny of the vernacular through a kaleidoscope (that) will not alter / its ever-changing / view, Strafford's poems offer precise explorations of life in high definition. Ideas and phrases spark surprising – sometimes shocking – relays, probing the spaces around experience, their forms precisely tuned to their restless exploration.
I am, writes Strafford, perpetually waiting for a thought so passionate and alive / it has an architecture of its own. On the evidence of this mercurial collection, she rarely has to wait long. From a toad heard in the darkness, to the click of a high-heeled shoe, to the knees of grown-ups seen from beneath a card table, each image – pulsing with resonance and reflection – is palpably, viscerally alive. This is everyday language in flux, the place where words go / after they are spoken, and Strafford doesn’t let a single one escape.
– Oz Hardwick
Leeds Trinity University, 2017