Poems by KJ Patten


The Uprising

Before, you heard people say they liked them,
had an affinity
for their sleek black feathers,
perky strut and confidence.

Eyes to our screens, subtle signs went unheeded.
Like when the double-headed Eagle
on the Albanian flag
became a Crow instead.

Caught up in our assumed
important, omniscient words,
their caws, just a cacophony in the trees.
They planned the takeover,

Then suddenly, they moved in.
Murders of them.
Hopped up onto our recliners
and watched our Netflix,
which streamed only
Hitchcock’s The Birds.

Opened our refrigerators
and ate our leftover Thai food,
pecking right through the top
of the Styrofoam boxes.

We were left, on our hands and knees,
peering into the grass of our lawns,
hoping to spy a bug, a grub,
for our dinner.

And to make our beds in the backseats
of our cars.  It turned out
Crows liked our pillow-top mattresses,
falling asleep with the light on
while reading Poe poems.


I Kissed

I kissed

…Joe in the halls of my high school, grudgingly, because his braces hurt my lips and his lips were too often weirdly wet.  It seemed the price of admission for getting to call him my boyfriend.

…Scott in the back of his Volvo station wagon, lying on a scratchy green wool blanket and once, in the damp rocky nook behind crashing and thrumming Multnomah Falls.  The location far more intoxicating than the kiss.

…Jerry, and nameless others I have to admit, on the bench seat of my 1969 Nova, at the last local Drive-In theater.

…Jack, who then turned and kissed Jean.

…Mike, my future husband, on an Oregon beach at 5:30 one damp morning, snuggled up with our backs to a giant grey driftwood log, mist softening our features.

…men in London, Paris, Frankfurt, men that were not my husband, and always after too much to drink, making it seem like a good idea.

…a man that was not my husband, but that I loved with a too big chunk of my heart, on the shore of Waikiki beach, in the dark, watching airplanes take off for the mainland, position lights twinkling into the stars.

…Martha, while we danced nude by a swimming pool in a hot desert town, after too much alcohol, making it seem like a good idea.  And no, it didn’t mean anything about my inclinations.

…Jeannie, my best friend from high school, years after we graduated.  I still denied what that implied.

…Karen, my best friend, in a field by my house, fog swirling around us, after too much alcohol. I kissed Karen thousands of more times after that, finally admitting my truth.