Aug 112015
 

Kate Fetherston paintingSpring: watercolor/oil pastel/graphite on paper 11”x15”.

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OVERTURE

I dream we argue about money, which is to say, about toast
and how it should be made, if you really loved me. You

lobby for your birthright to pile striations of mail across
horizontally opportune surfaces. That is: everywhere. If I

loved you, I would see this. I would celebrate your scattershot
genius. The next night, I dream prime numbers in bad

moods bump shopping carts in the produce aisle and slam
bananas to the floor with a fury that says, I am

special. And you don’t love me enough for it. After
weeks of this, one evening around midnight, I slip

out of myself, a stranger to the usual
conflagrations, and dream we muscle

through buoyant water as seals slapping
backsides. Our flippers splash each

other’s whiskery snouts as we loll
in sunlight we didn’t earn. When I open

my eyes, there’s music again. I stroke your stubbly
beard and dream of the Sargasso sea.

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IMG_1178Hidden Gold: oil on paper 22” x 30”.

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BAR SCENE

Your pick up line, “What kind of farm animal are you?” could use some work, and you never said where you’re from. But I to you of a white goat am mothered, my manners dainty and feral. Don’t invite me to the company picnic. I’ll bat my eyes at your boss while nibbling his flip-flops. Senseless, these conventions. My beast-like heart has no strings. You could play me like an accordion. My lungs swell with the sharp air of not-yet spring. I have the kind of hope acquainted of a tin can, desiring nothing more than to remain shiny. I to you am fatherless, gotten of a wild boar, an 80’s punk rocker. See, my mouth filled with thyme and laurel. I can’t sing a lick but my braying is the talk of the county and there have been several offers for my hand. I would like a comfortable barn and an acre of mint for my wedding day. I would like to lie down in clover. You could know me real well, buddy, or keep pretending you don’t want it. Either way, baa–aaad boy—the tab’s on you.

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IMG_1376Pieces of Self: collage on cardboard. 20”x 15”.

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GOD’S INTERVIEW

Tell us how you successfully met past challenges
and why you’re applying for this job.

Weary of mere hallelujah, I held the moon’s dark
backside and lounged on my netherworld throne. People
yammered and I tried to listen. For awhile, to get my
attention, small burnt  animals smoldered on every
hillock, then my inbox burgeoned with cracks
about my outdated skill set.  They gave feedback
on my goals.  They wanted me to improve. They wanted
rules to break.  They wanted selves.  Expectations,
evaluations: a poverty of imagination for which I take
full responsibility.  I dressed for the job I had instead

of the gig Lucifer snatched, so I rocked it
invisible. I did vocalize my needs through burning
bushes, giant snakes, dragons,  unicorns, poets,
an Al Gore or two, but nothing slowed the bloodbaths,
pyramid schemes, political stupidity. People bludgeoned
each other no matter what. Praise and lambast
piled up like junk mail and the universe
became unmanageable Maybe I didn’t
have good boundaries.  I tried tough
love.  Leaked news of my death and hung

with Saturn for a while.  His party
presence relies on a few glum
syllables and splitting a can of Spotted
Dick, but at least he’s not
demanding. But, folks seemed
lonely so I packed a lunch and parked
outside Lincoln Center in a plastic
chair for a couple of weeks. Of course, that’s
the most quiet I’ve enjoyed in millennia. Only
psychotics stopped to schmooze. Maybe higher

intellectual pursuits were the ticket, so
I eavesdropped on philosophy:  If p = q, why
is there no water in the gorge? What
were they even talking about? I had to skidaddle
the hell out of there to make that refresher
course on how to be a supreme deity and still
have time for myself. It’s all about balancing self-
care with busting ass. But I knew this gig was toast
when I no longer loved tender acrospires busting
snow laden earth. Yes, when the moon’s white

thigh rose over spring fields I waited
for the sun to gutter out. So I’m available
to start immediately.  Or, since time
is my plaything, before.

The panel appreciates your detailed response. However, in light of your already overtaxed schedule, we feel you are not the ideal fit for us.  And—off the record, that was quite the bar rant, Mr. G. To promote your success in future interviews, might we suggest job coaching—or medication—or, for God’s sake—both?

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IMG_0679Field with Light: watercolor/oil pastel/sgraffito on paper 9” x 10”.

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CHEATING AT SOLITAIRE

Grandma Dubie, day after day, hunched
splay legged over a bourbon glass balanced

on her chair’s cigarette-burned
arm and flicked cards with a loud

snap, each laid down with a private
purpose. Pastel squares on her

ancient rug functioned as a
game board for us kids. Made-

up crosswords: blue six down
by dusty pink three

across for a prize of burnt
toast. Once, unminded, my little

brother Sam gleefully pried
open the china cabinet, wrapped baby

fists around thin-skinned
teacups, and, determined as

a journeyman, dropped them
one by one on the dirty

floor. Without a word, she hammered
it shut. Shooed outside, we shadow-

boxed dust motes adrift in sour
apple trees, their rotten fruit

slippering bunchgrass that struggled
through what she didn’t

think of as neglect. We played with dead
Uncle Somebody’s toy soldiers. We hid

in the smelly basement, wiggling murky
Mason jars to see when, not if, they’d

explode. We tried climbing into the extra
fridge that, thank god, wouldn’t

shut. Eventually, nothing
else to do, we’d belly flop

back on the rug, singing tonelessly
while clicking Grandma’s jewel

clasped cigarette case. Finally, Grandma yelled
at Mom, I can’t take it—Bring

them back when they’re
housebroken or old enough

to drink. As if we could change
ourselves. As if that

would change us. Today, phone
held sideways, I swish virtual

cards with a finger—tick, tick—and my
fingers become my grandmother’s—now that I

too, lost in the cross hatching of love and irreparable
damage, need for something, anything to come out

all right. And the ache of blue shadow glides with winter
sun along walls of that other room I never left.

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IMG_1360Navigating the Underworld: watercolor/oil pastel on paper. Four 9”x10” panels.

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THE OLD YEAR IN JOHNSON, VERMONT

October hunkers on drab hindquarters
spattered with a few resonant

golds and rusty
oranges. She no longer cares to dress
for dinner or other occasions of vulgar

admiration; company is such
a bore. Spiny deciduous trees bristle

against a dirty palate
sky, and the old year lies down beside a mouse-
brown river.   To sleep she might say, if

she were speaking, but the truth
is colder and grief hardly

original. At the local coffee shop, I sift
some poetry through my early
morning confusion while at the next

table two mental health consumers-
slash-respite workers conduct a convo

with their payee. “That money
is coming to me,” says one. “I played
World of Warcraft all weekend. So don’t try

to play-sate me.” The caseworker
unrolls an I’m-Being

Very-Patient tone. In a small voice, guy number
two makes acquiescent I’m no
trouble noises, then says, “I’ve done

everything to lose
weight and it’s not my fault I hurt

my back. Can I get
some Oxy from anyone at your office?   Is anyone
hooked up?” The caseworker’s inaudible

response is sure to be
appropriate. We’re all in need

of respite, right? My seventeen year old
cat purrs and wants to sit close
but, thin to thinner, she’s disappearing. Her once

shiny black hair is drying to chick fluff. Where
is she going? The dwindling year

can’t be bothered for information. You’ll have
to go through channels, she’d say. If I asked
her to whisper god’s secret

name. Buttoning my coat against
a sharp wind coming off the railroad

tracks, I lean over the riverbank where
water is language enough. Red leaves circle
in widening ripples, then move on.

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IMG_0555Summer Storm:  watercolor/oil pastel on paper 9” x 10”.

—Paintings & Poems by Kate Fetherston

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Kate Fetherston

Kate Fetherston’s first book of poems, Until Nothing More Can Break, was released in 2012.  Her poems and essays in numerous journals including North American Review, Hunger Mountain, and Third Coast.   She’s received grants from the Vermont Council on the Arts and Vermont Studio Center.  Kate was twice a finalist for the Pablo Neruda Prize in Poetry and has several Pushcart Prize nominations.

Kate’s visual art is inspired by the line between feeling and seeing.  In this series, she’s is interested in playing with process and form to reinterpret landscape as it connects with internal space.  Kate’s art has been shown in California and Vermont.

 

  One Response to “Interviewing God: Poems & Paintings — Kate Fetherston”

  1. Nice work–especially “Cheating at Solitaire.”

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