Poetry: Selections from Catherine Zickgraf

St. Thomas Handshake 

Dudes under the sea grapes 
rent out wood umbrellas, 
make cash on the tourist waves. 
These barefoot dudes  
chill on their own island.  
I approach, 
but reddit doesn’t explain how to ask.  
I pulled up wrong, dude says. 
Still Dred walks me down the beach  
in front of a hundred faces. 
Do you laugh at the sunburned Caucasians?  
I make him smile. A dub. I tip. 
In St. Thomas I learned the handshake, 
taught by Dred at his back edge of trees. 
Peace, we say—and part ways.   


They show up noon and night to wipe her,  
place her back in her pulseless cage,  
unclick bulb of sun from fishing line sky,  
leave her hoarse and blind, pray for her to die— 
and locking tunnel mouth, just block her out.   
Waking to leather whipping bands on her bareness,   
she’s warned: move hands, by God in His fairness.  
A belt buckle crumples up tiny fingers.   
She fears feeding hands, betrayal lingering in Godly pain.   
She cowers in a crib corner, hides in horror  
where she knows they’ll find her.   
May she learn to tend the child of her mind,  
fend for her, fold her close.   
She needs all the hope she can get. 
originally published in Unbroken Journal, September 2015


My weakness: I tell all my secrets. 
Living on front street, I glistened on stages. 
How easy to entertain with imaginary beauty. 
It didn’t click you received what I said.   
Fuck my reputation in big ponds and small towns. 
Lick my aura, I’ll tell my secrets.  
And you’ll love my dark spell’s beauty of imagery. 
You’ll hum along with the sound. 

Catherine Zickgraf, two lifetimes ago, used to perform her poetry in Madrid. Now her main jobs are to write and hang out with her family. Her work has appeared in PankJournal of the American Medical Association, and The Grief Diaries. Her chapbook, Soul Full of Eye, is published through Aldrich Press. 


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