Karen Greenbaum-Maya
Karen Greenbaum-Maya, retired clinical psychologist, German major, two-time Pushcart nominee and occasional photographer, no longer lives for Art but still thinks about it a lot. She knows many words. Her first full sentence was, “Look at the moon!” Besides her professional activities, she reviewed restaurants for the Claremont Courier for five years, sometimes in heroic couplets, sometimes imitating Hemingway. Her poems and photos appear frequently in journals and anthologies, and have received Special Merit and Honorable Mention in Comstock Review’s Muriel Craft Bailey Memorial poetry contest. Kattywompus Press publishes her two chapbooks, Burrowing Song and Eggs Satori. Aldrich Press publishes her new book-length collection, The Book of Knots and their Untying. She co-hosts Fourth Sundays, a poetry series in Claremont, California. For links to work on-line, go to: Clouds Like Mountains


Body of Knots

Knot, a hard word to write, the small K silent but demanding, needing four strokes, three changes of direction, down-up, out-in, out-and-down. Knots, bumps of wood where the branches join the trunk and the saw bounces off, every stroke’s intention deflected and sent away. See how knots make a body:  Turk’s Head has a Hole-in-the-Head, the Eye Splice. Throat Knots clutched between Cat’s Paw and Monkey’s Paw. Underhand Shank balances Underwriter’s Shank. Sheep Shank ends in a Lark’s Foot.

Knots in knuckles, built by arthritis. Knot-muscled body builder whose arms can’t hang down, too strong to move. Knots in my shoulders, muscles pulled tight enraging the places where separate muscles meet, the angry binding of two, too much asked too often. Knots in curly hair, forced by brute-forcing the brush from the root on out. Why not start at the ends where the load is small? Why pull so hard that every knot turns Gordian? Knot in my stomach, working to digest the thing that is no thing, indigestible. Keep trying to solve it, dissolve it before it eats a hole, a hole that can’t be knotted shut.

Hear the power of knots, handed down in names:  Widow-Maker, God-Forsaker, Meet-Your-Maker, Phantom-Staker, Slip Square Reef, and Thief, and Granny.

Real Poem

Open mike, she comes up to ask me, were those real poems, or did I just make them up. I confess:  I just make them up. Her look says I thought as much. So many years I have faked it, getting credit for stuff I just made up. What you are reading here, for instance. It’s not a real poem, just one I made up. This poem did not come from a certified breeder, someone who could vouch for the pedigree of the parents. Nah, it’s a mutt, a Heinz 57, a tabby-tortie-tiger cat, maybe even missing a tail. At the computer it will not leave me alone. Make a real poem out of me, it hisses, stalking across the keyboard, make me a real poem. At my desk, I made a nest for it from my grandmother’s shawl, the one she crocheted even before she married my grandfather the head baker of Łodz. The poem deliberately lies sprawled across the paper I’m trying to write on, or it swarms up my shoulder, then lodges under my chin. I can’t even see what my hand is doing. Sometimes I try to write without looking, but my hands crawl a row up or a key over, and the whole thing transposes into code, spilling out and leaking onto the table, disappearing into the carpet. Sometimes I lose track of the lines and go right off the rails, maybe even over the edge. But, when the poem is satisfied I am not ignoring it, it lets me write. It curls up in the shawl-nest and sleeps, breathing in quick little bursts, snoring tiny snores, feet twitching as it dreams.



 2017 Karen Greenbaum-Maya
Karen Greenbaum-Maya was a Featured Poet at the February 2017 Second Sunday Poetry Series