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Poetry by Mary Catherine Harper
Photography by Thomas Born
and Mary Catherine Harper


Art Show in an Old Bank
My lover of art
pauses before “Self Portrait,”
those still eyes pleading
as if to say “you who gaze,
please to buy my naked face.”

Where tellers once stood,
picture the artists, money
not quite their purpose.

Picture my lover roaming,
the vacant bank vault open,
lined with wolf, grizzly
bear, elk, wild horse pawing
at their canvases and frames.


Line between poems
Circus Dream
My mannequin, my love,
you are too beautiful for
sweaty flesh-and-bloods

like me. Do you become
human when your golden
circus hoops are packed

into the cargo trunk,
when you wash the paint
from your lashless eyes?


Line between poems
Fall Haiku and Tanka
Yellow leaves falling,
roof a magnet attracting
bright foliage and limbs.

Yellow leaves falling,
roof invites dead branches as
insurance goes up.

Yellow leaves falling,
you can't ignore their tango,
like potato chips
no one can follow just one,
eyes dancing from leaf to leaf.


Line between poems
Winter Haiku

Winter sun bleeds white
ice cracking into the lake,
the symbol’s slow melt.

Winter sun bleeds hot
plot of last summer’s affair,
passé as scorched skin.

Winter sun bleeds cold
mind in water’s undertow,
the story’s progress.

Winter sun bleeds white
light flashing before her eyes,
lucid as love drowns.


Line between poems
Don't Turn Your Back
you so cocky in your tuxedo,
sure of control over a thing
kept close but never loved,

do you know the tuba near
the steps is about to flee,
hoping against telekinesis


Line between poems
The Last Tree You'll Ever Climb
you have nowhere to go but down,
having put yourself so far above
the rest of us, having climbed to

the top of the nest of us, having
stepped on your oldest friend, who
boosted you into your first tree


Line between poems
Scraping the Sky
to a child—or post-9/11 adult—
drill bits standing on end in
shallow holes of a workbench

can’t help but be a village
of skyscrapers, designed to
compete for space with planes


Line between poems
Get Right With God
like a grave marker, reminding us
that everything ends eventually,
no dramatic exit, just weathered

down to the underlayer, the stain
of paint ambiguous from the start,
no absolutes pointing the way


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