Poems by Kathryn Gesser

The Invention of Loneliness

End of summer
I saw you
through sleepless eyes,
could only speak
in hushed pastel tones.
Under thick bass notes
and static mingling,
my words were drowned.
Smoked myself to sleep
before you could read
my lips.

I wonder
when this feeling
will end.
I wonder
who sleeps better
at night.

Last time we made love
I tripped hard,
was barely even there.
Kept thinking about friendship
for friendship’s sake,
all the layers
of reality.
None of ours overlap

I wonder
how it lasted
so long.
I wonder
why we didn’t see
right then.

Came alive again
in October.
Not sure
when I died.
Became acquainted
with a stranger-man.
We laughed and cried
and sang until
our hearts hit the floor.
Then we made love
and I didn’t think of you
not even once
until he left on a plane
and I was lonely again.

I wonder
what’s the purpose
in leaving.
I wonder
where the love
hides away.

Fathers From Higher Places

When we were short
and summer was long
your father picked us up
in his red Chevy truck,
let us lie in the rusted bed
with a toolbox full of stars.
He’d hit the potholes
on purpose I swear
and we’d fly so high
then crash back down
with only each other
to break our fall.

I remember the rest of it foggy
like I’m remembering someone else’s childhood.
How old were you
when you realized he wasn’t a hero?
In what phase of the moon
did you finally understand the origin of his scars?
Was it bright and full through the clouds
or a sliver of light in an empty sky?
How high did you fly?

We’re the children of 20 years ago
writing about our own scars
because it makes us feel young and honest.
I hear your father’s an alcoholic now
and builds beautiful staircases
for people that want them.

Cat Nap Dream

I see myself

in a wood-heated cabin
on a late blue evening
cozy with a book about stars
made of the same stuff as stars
with the promise of a warm bubbly soak
a patient man under the covers
my writing out in the world
somewhere the opposite of here.

I see myself

alone and content
not lonesome for youth
with nowhere to be tomorrow
where the phone’s unplugged
the radio’s in the basement
with space for my scattered thoughts
handwritten on parchment
recovered from my mind’s void
melting like creamsicle
down pink knuckles
understanding what it means
to exist.

Box Spring Oracle

The saddest man on Earth
sits on a box spring in an empty house
weeping into his own hands.
I did not ask for it to be this way he says to God.

And for the first time since creating the sad man
or the little blue planet
God speaks back.
Neither did I.
Neither did anyone.

Fluorescent Lighting

In the room after a cold shower
low buzz of fluorescent lighting
makes me feel dirty again.

In the photo behind the bed, I forge a smile.
Didn’t want the world to see
something inside was dead.

I felt it die a long time ago,
but still remember how it breathed:
heavy, slow, seemingly eternal.

I turn off the lights,
hold my breath
in the dark.


About the Author
Kathryn Gesser studies Professional Writing and English Education at Champlain College in her beautiful home state of Vermont. She is Head News Editor of her campus newspaper, The Crossover, and has freelanced for various local sports publications. Her one true love is poetry, through which she has found a voice in an often-silencing world.