Commenting on a Catherine Woodard suite of childhood poems, Unshod Quills wrote: “our skirts were blown nearly clean off by the gale force of their brilliance.”
Force and brilliance indeed. Catherine Woodard is relentless in her gaze upon pain and coping and remarkable for her resilience and triumph as a poet, citizen, leader and guide to expressing oneself as part of healing.
My parents run
Through wedding rice.
She is 19. Hopes her linen suit
Makes her look mature.
My brother at three plugs a gap
Between holster and hips
With a bear plucked of fur.
He stuffed his nose and ears
Till Mother bribed him with guns.
His pistols drag the ground.
I am starched at four
In pinafore and smocking.
A hand cups my chin.
I stare where the photographer asks.
Published in Unshod Quills
For Not Playing Dead
With a blue book bag,
Two fat pencils and a rule
Not to leave school
With my father in a car,
I start first grade.
Mother says we can die
If he’s drinking.
Says to scream,
Kick if we must.
Published in Harpur Palate
Suicide Attempt IV:
A History of the South
Professor Tate motions me to sit.
A makeup exam, in his office of
faded Civil War generals,
……………..lines of lonely looking men.
He stands by two favorite teaching quotes:
………………You Can’t Catch Fish on the Surface.
………………Few Folks Say What They Mean.
I hear: I am so sorry…
My knee bobs. I say: You are so kind.
I open the blue book:
……………….Propose Three Policies to Mitigate
……………….Strategic Failures of Reconstruction.
Dr. Tate pats my shoulder as he leaves,
makes me four again, in my grandfather’s lap
with Sunday biscuits in my hands, hymns in my head.
……………Published in River Sedge
Catherine Woodard lives and plays basketball in New York City. She swerved to poetry in 2001 after an award-winning career in journalism. Her poems have appeared in Poet Lore, Southern Poetry Review, RHINO, and other journals. She co-published Still Against War/Poems for Marie Ponsot.
She has a MFA in poetry from The New School, a M.S. in journalism from Columbia University, and a B.A. in history from Wake Forest University.
She worked to restore Poetry in Motion to the New York City subways and is a board member of the Poetry Society of America. She is a former president of Artists Space, one of the nation’s oldest spaces for emerging visual artists. Go to her website, catherinewoodard.com, to learn more about her and to read more of her stunning work.