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Cattails

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Product Description

poems by

Kathy Nelson

Poetry chapbook, 40 pages, $11 cover price

($8 if ordered from the MSR Online Bookstore)

ISBN: 978-1-59948-428-0

Released: 2013

About The Author

 

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Kathy Nelson

With deep southern roots, both geographically and spiritually, Kathy Nelson spent her early childhood in Texas and visited extended family there well into adulthood. Although she left the fundamentalist church of her upbringing, after settling with her family in New Jersey she trained and worked as a non-denominational healthcare chaplain and has served as a chaplain in both nursing home and hospice environments. She began to write poetry seriously during her experience as chaplain. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Edison Literary Review, Exit 13, Off the Coast, Paterson Literary Review, The Cortland Review, U.S. 1 Worksheets, www.musepiepress.com/shotglass, www.poetsonline.org and www.switched-ongutenburg.org.

 

Comments

In this evocative debut collection, Kathy Nelson shares with us her fundamentalist upbringing in Texas, her grandmother’s wisdom…when things are bad, a woman carries on, her aunt’s bountiful dinner table. She explores love and loss-what is yearned for, what is freely-given or withheld. She tells us, I wanted love as lush as cattails growing on the banks of the Sabine, love to soak this parched land.

–Nancy Scott,
Managing Editor of U.S.1 Worksheets

 

Kathy Nelson’s first collection of poems reflects a powerfully perceptive life journey. Peering outward from her unique inner experience – she holds, explores, analyzes, savors and ultimately frees her truths. Through her sculpted language, enhanced by deft brush strokes, she renders herself visible, pulling us so completely into her fold that we hear her clear, soft but distinct affirmation: This is what must not be missed –/this bright moment.

–Molly Seale

 

Kathy Nelson’s powerful chapbook Cattails presents a narrative at once mysterious and fully apparent. Focused through the lens of family, class, and place, her tales acquaint the reader with the lost father “familiar as my own face, yet I cannot see you,” with the dark mirage and miracle of daughters. Kathy Nelson’s poems offer unerring personal and cultural histories-there is admirable exactness in her language and striking honesty in the telling.

–Katherine Soniat,
author of The Swing Girl (LSU Press)

Samples

Panic

You call to tell me you’ve been robbed at gunpoint.
They bound the others, gun barrel at your temple.
I plead with you to come home.
You tell me you’ll be okay.

They bound the others, gun barrel at your temple.
You gave them all your money so no one would die.
You tell me you’ll be okay.
They fired off a round before they left.

You gave them all your money so no one would die.
I think of all the ways I’ve failed to keep you safe.
They fired off a round before they left.
You say you’re taking care of yourself now.

I think of all the ways I’ve failed to keep you safe.
I plead with you to come home.
You say you’re taking care of yourself now.
You call to tell me you’ve been robbed at gunpoint.

Incoming Tide, Outer Banks, North Carolina

I confess I’ve squandered my attention on mere trifles–
life, death, mostly death–
as though I had a limitless supply,
as though the true urgency did not apply to me.

Impotent vigilance saves no one, least of all me.

One by one they will all leave me.
Already footprints I made just a moment ago
are washed away,
And the sand is as smooth and wet
as on the Third Day,
when none of us,
nor our most distant grandmothers,
had ever been.

Pelicans ride the stiff breeze, just out of reach,
a ragged line, one creature.
For the moment they hover there, overhead.
The static illusion is pierced:
I too am hurtling along in the wind,
borne on the breeze at some unknowable speed.

This is what must not be missed–
this bright moment.

Summer Bible Camp

At sunset, evening Bible service, there he was,
the preacher, just 21 or so. Fine dark hair, passionate eyes,
just the faintest glint of sweat across his cheekbone.
The oscillating fan blew across his shirt,
and now and then, we glimpsed his muscled form.

He warned us of the fires of Hell, explained the fatal error:
thinking you were saved when, in truth, you were blind
to your damnation. He terrified and mesmerized us.
We sat, riveted by his swagger and the heat.
Cool air through the open window only fanned the flame.

And none of us, among the girls at least,
could resist the call of his burly shoulders,
his narrow waist. Night after night, all week,
we came forward at the call, seeking salvation.
Then, in bed at night, we dreamed of him.

On Saturday, when Daddy came to pick me up,
I was in such a state I dared to say
I wasn’t going home, I’d found my place.
I was staying. It was, perhaps,
the only time I ever crossed my father.

With a look, my father was more powerful
than hellfire or damnation,
even more than the draw of the young preacher.
I got into the car. Without a word, he drove me home.

If you would like to read more of Cattails by Kathy Nelson, order your copy today.

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