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Kate Dougherty

If You’re Finished I’ll Have Your Cup

How did summer appear the morning you returned home?
Sweet like old smoke, clutch me in a corset.

It’s hot now and I’m all wet.
            Shall I bathe you? Wash your pieces

I want to wrap your body in fresh towels
watch you dry.
We can wither cling.

            *  *  *

What is this memorial intangible?

When I threw my computer against the wall it smashed.
I found the K inside a dirty sock and I pressed it.
The rest were gone.
Where's your K? Is she in heaven like you say?
Rot in heaven like you say?

Shimmer Your New ‘Do


says the polka dot girl at night,
says the polka dot girl at morning
when her window’s glazed…
It’s winter and her glass to outside is whitish glow…
a cloud of snow—
so under her blanket she’ll slide hide go!
In bed—alone,
no diary under pillow whispers,
circle joints, glowing sockets…
I will watch you fit your frame
and treat your toes like gold…
New shoes,
red with white dots,
and she tucks them inside sheets—
asks the thing for its opinion,
tells the thing the places they’ll go,
where the sun’s rays turn red to pink,
where red clay makes the edges orange,
she’ll sit, chin on knees,
the nook in between
and wouldn’t you like to go?

Her eyelids lower—
and fingernail finds its lights-off switch
the tops of new shoes wriggle,
the toes,
jolting with sleep inside—
running a path to each his own…



In spring
nothing left has to die!
In morning
nothing left needs to shift and shake!
In the bedroom,
the echo takes its hold in the corners
the tree leaves



says the polka dot girl at night,
says the polka dot girl at morning
when her window’s glazed…
No digital minutes
wait for her to rise.
No leaves on branch
will whisper her their song.
With it, she wonders,
how her new shoes will fare—
once the red clay thaws to spread?
they figure with the laces,
they pull the sheets under the chin…
She rests it on her fish-bone hand
(on her heel, the strongest).
And it remains,
corners and joints.
It’s between her
arm and ribs…

Her eyelids lower—
and fingernail finds its lights-off switch
jolting with sleep inside—

We Wear Our Own Heads

Her fedora spins round the coat hook
fashioned from a stomping stomping calcium hoof.

Nuzzle nose, the beast forever in nickel time.

I crow call, tell you about her,
fry you some eggs.
The noise o’er our heads an automatic radio.

An hour behind and we all can’t fit anymore.



But who am I to board it over? A sinker.
A down-and-out waiting for her shot.

A Short Page from Our Day Trip to Americus

Does she think we’re in a hot air balloon? Frolicking
in the Memorial Day parade? I told her to forget
the flag at home.


Dear Apple and Silverbelle,

            She couldn’t swallow the cherry pie!

            It was a big lost dirt cake, and she left behind
at least a few teeth.

            My shrugging skeleton is usually good at making you
feel at home.

Sweet me,
Bones Barbed, chest stares shameless.


Why don’t we just try her again later on,
floss without wax or shine.

Dear Curator

So much to be afraid of: earthquake, mudslide, wildfire, plane crash, train wreck, car accident, nuclear war, riots, gas shortage, Skylab, burglar, rapist, kidnapper, hijacker, mass murderer, botulism, rabies, tetanus, lockjaw, gangrene, infection, germs, sirens, black widow, rattlesnake, calories, high cholesterol, heart attack, Alzheimer’s, bird flu, cancer.

Do you even fear them anymore?
I fear them even more than I did before.
The proof is in the pudding. Shit happens.
Shit happens to everyone all the time.

I resist making plans
at a road trip’s destination.
Should I say we’ll meet for coffee
and leave you at the table
waiting? Glass that won’t break.

:autism, alcoholism, pregnancy, marriage, religion, zipper, bathing suit, paper cut, loneliness, failure, burn, onion & garlic, the perfume lady at Macy’s, veal knuckle, unlocked door, broken glass.

My mother runs her finger over the bumps on the bottom
of the jar and they remind her of the baby’s crooked spine,
crooked like her father’s and grandfather’s.

Sometimes this is just how it is.
It’s impossible to keep the water pitchers full.

We loved her,