Karen Greenbaum-Maya

Cold Little Proto-Planet
Kafka is resolved to leave for the place he belongs. Not imaginary places that can never exist, matter and anti-matter in one small space, each jostling to release the power of the other. He belongs on Ceres, out beyond Mars, beyond war. Sister Vesta is radiant with inner half-lives but Ceres is cold. Ceres cannot be seen with the naked eye unless you are freakishly far-sighted. Ceres dwells in the space where something is missing. Not even the planet Kepler and Bode were looking for. Nothing but the relic. Ceres burnt out her hot core long ago. Now she is covered with fine black ash. Too small to keep her air, too small to become a proper planet, too distant to find warmth from the Sun. To Ceres the Sun is a smudged pinpoint, and the Sun cannot see her at all. Kafka feels tender when he thinks of her inadequacy. Kafka knows she would not mock him. She is goddess of vegetarians, of everything that will not stay buried.

Kafka at the Computer
Kafka plays Minesweeper, not Tetris. When Kafka played Tetris, he was buried alive and left with a map of his paralysis. Minesweeper is less grim, even though he is lamed and blinded when the virtual mine explodes under his feet, in his face. His family thinks he writes all night, but Minesweeper is what he does when he can’t write, not yet. He cannot write until he has crossed the field. He cannot write until he has foreseen all the dangers. If he clicks on a mine, there is no forgiveness, no redemption but in playing the same game again.

Ready or not, he must play at Expert level. Clusters of eight, even nine mines surround the lone safe square. He knows this is impossible, but no one listens. His insight is no use at all. He tries to learn each minefield, rehearsing the patterns even after he has cleared the field, as though escaping once could keep him safe again.

Somewhere in the middle, just high enough, is a square that will unlock the entire field. He follows his intuition and clicks and all the bombs go off, a voluptuous relief. He’ll never see those fields again, but he keeps playing as though someday he might know where he is standing. He suspects the mines shift around. He is too tired, really, to make sure. He would have to map out the entire field, and he is no surveyor.

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. Her work appears in anthologies with surprising frequency. She co-hosts Fourth Sundays, a poetry series in Claremont, California. Kattywompus Press publishes her two chapbooks, Burrowing Song, a collection of prose poems, and Eggs Satori. For links to work on-line, go to: Clouds Like Mountains.
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Blogger Ask Me Now said...

I love both poems and the photographs--but especially the drawn face with a shadow of another face. Well done all.

1:36 AM  

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