We’re four poets (from Kentucky and Ohio) working together. We met as writers in creative writing classes at Northern Kentucky University. It was through words on a page that we first became acquainted with each other, becoming friends in the act of providing feedback in a workshop circle. In our last semester, we joined a poetry workshop at the same time, and applied for a mid-semester retreat from the Kentucky Foundation for Women. We were granted time at Hopscotch House.
We decided over the kitchen table (it could have been the bourbon) to try our hand at collaboration in a place where we’d already been cooking, talking, and creating together. A pile of blank white sketchbook pages left scattered there filled slowly with handwritten notes in pencil, bright blue pen, and block and cursive letters. We paused to read at random intervals, over cups of tea or mushroom risotto, and built what became a chapbook of poems very much rooted in the hearth, influenced by our weekend in a farm field full of deer in the morning and coyote overnight.
We allow each other creative freedom, marginal notes, associative riffing, and no apologies. Our first chapbook, in these cups, is forthcoming from Dancing Girl Press.
I Can’t Always Speak the Language
of birds flocking southward.
Fat clouds confuse my tongue,
pulling my poems out to bury them at the foot
of a Kentucky Coffeetree. Breathe in.
The story behind our teeth will push loose—
keep your sight on the horizon.
Dusk-pink day brings with it a cleansing rush of deer
and quail rise to the now-full moon. They cup
their wings for a skid-landing across
a nameless pond and settle in,
clustered masses on smooth glass—
white bellies pressed into the sky.
You Played My Tarot Cards
and rocked me free
of losing my mind a million times.
Your fingernail skips over the chip in a white cup
to the beat of 4 drums behind 96 rib bones.
We come to this circle, you and I
with two other women to see us through.
The whiskey bottle still full—
we’re terrible writers that way.
I’m not ready for this truth:
for you to see through the lace of me
Battenburg, the bridal veil,
lies gilded in the ash of my old bones.
There are more bodies buried here
than anyone knows.
if you ask,
Jawbones Strong and Poisonous
Draw me back into myself.
Please, give me
a page half lit by mother sun.
I will use it to find who I am—
lift this fog and I will find my way to the labyrinth’s center.
The complex core of me
wool carpet gives in bedrooms
where only women sleep.
Ghost awaits the return of coyote-cry,
presses fingertips to leaded glass
and fogs it with her haunting.
Her love letters
shaped of what remains—stacked stones.
This House Is Our Garden
plant in its withered eaves
old paint-chip-curls catch the offering
streaks along the floor where rain seeps in.
Write hieroglyphs coded to
us in water-stain symbols—
pennies hidden under clay cups.
We fill them again and again—
sliced fruit, coffee, sweet juice
and cold water. Our table adorned
with bright red berries.
Yes, we know they’re poison.
We choose them for their warning-color.
Wild Soft makes her home on the banks of the Ohio River. Her work appears in Stone Telling, Wild Quarterly and Room. She is the collaboration of poets Nicci Mechler, Hilda Weaver, Wendy Creekmore, & Kristin Koester.
Wendy Creekmore lives in rural Northern Kentucky, just south of Cincinnati, Ohio, with her husband, Virgil and two kitties. Her work appears in Sugared Water and Journal of Kentucky Studies.
Kristin Koester is proud to be Kentucky-born and finds refuge in a nook where the Ohio and Licking Rivers meet, opposite of Cincinnati. Her work appears in Licking River Review.
Nicci Mechler splits her time between writing poetry, speculative fiction, and drawing girls with inky tattoos. Her work appears in several anthologies and journals, most recently: Kestrel, Roanoke Review, Arroyo Literary Review and Lines+Stars. Deep in Flesh, her chapbook of poetry, is forthcoming (Dancing Girl Press, 2015).
Hilda Weaver is a retired psychotherapist, the mother of three, grandmother of four and great grandmother of six. Her poetry appears in Sugared Water, 94 Creations, Offcourse, and Licking River Review. The Autobiography of a Love Not Mine (Porkbelly Press, 2014) is her first micro chapbook.