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C.N.P Poetry 

  • Writer's pictureCathexis Northwest Press


By: Claire Scott


Memories illegible

whitewashed and weather-

bleached by time’s relentless tick

My caregiver Talia or Trisha or Trixie

says we need you to be clean

as she scrubs between my low slung breasts

Lying like parched fruits across my stomach

and I inhale the intimate agony

of her flowery perfume

My neurons are plotting against me

staging a mutiny after eighty years

synapses short circuiting, misfiring

They used to be on my side

synchronized like a marching band

lined up like migrating swallows

But now Tyler or Tracy or Trina

says it is time for our supper

as she tucks a napkin under my chin

To catch our spills she says

no interest in her watery soup or tasteless stews

but Tessa or Tara is my only friend

Unless you count the figure waiting in the wings

wearing a sable suit and a sinister smile

knowing his turn is coming next

So we break open a bottle of our best wine

while we watch swallows flying low

and listen to the wobbly notes of a fading band


There I go again, right in the middle

I have forgotten the point

was there ever a point

there used to be

all the time

now this keeps happening to me

the punch line, the pithy wrap,

the thrust, the core, the crux

in short, the point

has vanished like Edsels and Betamax tapes

Sometimes I walk into a room filled with purpose

determined to

and then a blank, a total blank

like being in an Arctic blizzard

or scuba diving in the Coral Sea

but I will teach you a trick

go back to the beginning

sit at your computer again

or stir the pea soup and you will find

your purpose, maybe a pen or a pepper grinder

but we can’t go back, can we

to type writers and telephone operators

to carbon paper and cassette players

entropy increases, time is one way


they treat me well in here

plenty of pills for la la land

an alphabetic panoply

like the horn of plenty

on our holiday table

Abilify, Effexor, Geodon,

Risperdal, Zyprexa

mix and match



pills flushed

do you remember

the Thanksgiving dinner

when I bone-wished

to be a sea gull

a starling, a nightingale

soaring naked

do you remember

when I leapt

from the rooftop

wearing Icarus wings

nose-diving down

sabotaged by spies

what of years

of white gowns

no belt, no laces

only the sharp click

of heels and metal locks

they drill holes in my head

I am rising

on waxless wings

perhaps a sparrow

a smudge in the sky

a slight tickle

in your throat

look up


Claire Scott is an award winning poet who has received multiple Pushcart Prize nominations. Her work has appeared in the Atlanta Review, Bellevue Literary Review, New Ohio Review, Enizagam and Healing Muse among others. Claire is the author of Waiting to be Called and Until I Couldn’t. She is the co-author of Unfolding in Light: A Sisters’ Journey in Photography and Poetry.

Interview with the Poet:


How long have you been writing poetry?

Claire Scott:

I started writing poetry about twelve years ago. I was a psychotherapist (now retired) and found a number of similarities between being a therapist and writing poetry. In both you need to be present, empty and receptive. Both are about listening closely, to your voice as a poet or to the patient’s voice. And both encourage you to play with associations.


Can you remember the first poem you read that made you fall in love with poetry?


As a child, I was given a copy of A Child’s Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson. I loved The Land of Counterpane, My Shadow and The Lamplighter. I think it was then that I fell in love with poetry, but it was only years later that I dared to dream of writing.


Who are your favorite poets? Any specific poems?


Oh my. So very many. I particularly like Franz Wright, Ada Limon, Dorianne Laux and Kaveh Akbar. I love One Heart by Franz Wright and Downhearted by Ada Limon.


Can you share for us a little bit about your writing process? Any specific rituals that get you in the zone?


I start my day with meditation. Then, before starting to write, I read a few poems. Afterward, I may either look at the poems I am currently writing along with my scribbles on the page or go through my stack of three by five slips of paper where I have jotted down ideas or words that appeal to me. I try to have an fresh mind, open to possibility and play.


How do you decide the form for your poems? Do you start writing with a form in mind, or do you let the poem tell you what it will look like as you go?


I definitely let the poem tell me! I often start writing in one form and find the poem demands another. It helps me to write the first draft or two as a prose poem and then see what needs to happen next. It is important to listen to the poem.


Any advice for poets who have yet to find their voice?


Set aside your judgmental mind. Read lots and lots of poems. Take classes from poets you like. Find a writing group. Write every day. Have fun!


What is your editing process like?


I usually start writing a poem by hand. Then I type it into my computer and edit. Then I print it out and scribble. The entire page is filled with arrows. Type, print, scribble, type, print, scribble. When I am editing I try to have my more analytic mind without shutting down my imagination.


When do you know that a poem is finished?


That’s a hard one. I have gone back and looked at older poems and realized they were not finished. But generally after several weeks or months I find I have nothing more to say or add.

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