C. Kubasta


My father told me to
turn the lights on when the sky
got soft & greenish grey – after the F-scale winds, when
people might be picking their way
through the wreckage of what was home, and ours

we had a roof, food, electricity

Come spring, we’d clean the mice
out of the bucket of used motor oil
in the garage, silken lumps fished out of a skein
of treacle. Used motor oil has many uses, beyond
a death-trap for unlikely families, in an unlikely place.

We are talking about fathers because both your father
and stepfather had told you You can’t trust anyone
who bleeds five days & doesn’t die –

Now, when there’s a storm, I still think we should get the chainsaw
and walk around to the neighbors, cutting
brush, clearing what needs clearing, checking
in. I recognized that lumpen death

smothered in the grey-green of dirty oil
because earlier that year I’d found a nest
in the cap on the propane tank:
pink & hairless, I put them back
before anyone else saw. Viscous-slick,
they’d been tempered to the ultimate vulnerability.

I want to tell you

how down the hill, by the creek, there were these plants
we called Touch-Me-Nots – some kind of jewelweed, with orange flowers
and sweet nectar, and we’d rub it on broken or itchy skin, but
mostly we liked to poke the cylindrical pods, watch them split & furl back
onto themselves. In the moted light, we could watch the trajectory
of the seeds. You are surprised I’ve never heard that saying, but what I learned

is how to manage lumpen death, a chainsaw, and to touch
everything that claims to not want touch.




C. Kubasta writes poetry, prose and hybrid forms. She is the author of several poetry books, most recently OF COVENANTS (Whitepoint, 2017). Her fiction includes GIRLING (Brain Mill, 2017) and THIS BUSINESS OF THE FLESH (Apprentice House, 2018). She is active with the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets, and serves as Assistant Poetry editor with Brain Mill Press. Find her at and follow her @CKubastathePoet.