Cathy Porter

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Navigational Challenges of the Treatable

There’s gonna be a darkness –
the kind that takes the soul to the back
of the woodshed for an old-fashioned
whoopin’. The kind of blackness that makes
you desperate for a prime spot
under the earth.

And your friends can’t help, even
the ones with good intentions.
Nobody wants to see or feel this.
It’s catchy in a hand-me-down kind of way.

So, when it finally ends – and it will end –
don’t be shocked when the lights
flick back on, and people scatter,

like roaches in the first dump I rented
after my divorce, before us came to be –
when the best I could do was a dumpster-dive
couch, a disabled chair, and a space heater.
Slumlord controlled the heat. But a kick-ass
stereo that blasted angst ‘round the clock.

The rookie days of diagnosis: we fought
together (still do) – but the years have bullied
us into private corners sometimes.
My therapist says this is normal. She didn’t
say anything about it being good.

No manual, no rulebook, minimal help.
Nobody’s fault. And the financial is another
poem I can’t afford. We make plans, as if time
never left our side, and all we’ll ever need
is that kick-ass stereo. With upgrades, of course.

Artwork by Gene McCormick

New Wave Sonnet

credit card on the end table –
a sad attempt to clear your conscious

but that card was cancelled months ago
I shredded all the other ones

the years have finally decided
what you never could

or maybe it was something else
someone else

out of cash, out of luck,
out of smokes -- and the bars don’t
open until 10

just enough time to freshen up,
pep talk my liver into overtime –

check the cushions for loose change


Cathy Porter’s poetry has appeared in Plainsongs, California Quarterly, Blue Collar Review, Nerve Cowboy, and various other journals. She has published numerous chapbooks, the latest The Dash Between Us, forthcoming in February 2022 from Finishing Line Press. Cathy has been nominated for several Pushcart Prizes, never winning a single one, of course. She lives in Omaha, NE, and serves as a Special Editor for the journal Fine Lines.