Singles Ad and other works by Karen Finnigan

Poet Karen Finnigan was born in Vancouver, Canada, but grew up in Washington state with brief stops in California and Oregon. Home is now in Idaho Falls. At various times of her life she has worked as a teacher, a novelist, a landlady, and a technical editor. She earned her BA in English and Education from Western Washington University. Her poems have appeared in YAWP: A Journal of Poetry & Art. She is also mother to three great children, Barry, Mike, and New Orleans' painter Daniel Finnigan.

Singles Ad

Survivors only need apply
To climb up the hoary face
Of love tried and lost.
Maps showing familiar routes
Do not exist.
Jagged ruts give no clue. Unmarked paths
Take you to the top
(Prepare to live on wild thistle),
Or to the fire at the bottom -
Where the vintage is unfailingly fine.


A Hundred Summers

There are trees still rooted, still leafing
From a hundred summers past;
There are rocks still washed by waves
From a hundred centuries back;
And last week dusk, that big black cave
where Aries, and Leo love to prowl,
Kicked out another dawn.

Beneath that dawn,
Inside the rock,
At the base of the root,
A Roman cup still lies
Buried and dried in time.
But the house where I was born--
It's gone as if it never was--
My footprint on the walk is too.
And a hundred summers down my road,
There won't be knees upon my grave
No stories of my French faux pas,
my anguished days alone with Keats
Locked in dorm rooms
Sampling cigarettes and boys
My beehive search through malls
For wedding shoes.

But you, child of my child
Will still know that once alone,
I pushed a baby life into this earth,
Raised beans, and dusted books.
And though I know
your mouth
Has yet to form,
your foot to kick,
The vines and grapes to grow
A hundred summers more,
Someday I'll be your Roman cup,
And you,
You'll be
My wine.



Autumn of My Clock

Not a good day,
certainly not for a walk,
I shudder, locking the door
and shaking my umbrella
amid a slew of autumn leaves
that drop
            on the tiles
                         of my foyer floor.
Demented season.
Demented leaves.
Yellow and orange sodden mites
sticking to the base of trees,
like old women ostracized
before the snows set in,
or creeping through the gutters,
a wet line of refugees
            in a vain         escape attempt.
Everywhere, everywhere,
to its
and wind ordering me
assume the fetal position and wait
while raindrops shoot the puddles
Those with the most frantic
will to live, I suppose,
cling wetly to my shoes,
veins pulsing on sole and leather,
unable to let go
anymore than the little neighbor boy
who followed me home can stop
stomping in the water,
crunchy brown leaves
held aloft for me to see
his prizes.



I could if I was so inclined,
Run my hands along
Your century of seconds;
Mark off notches on the
Grosgrain band of years -
Black of course, in honor of
Loves lost;
But speckled yellow with regrets,
For races never run.
(Be glad your life had
Some cliches.)
Don't ask me then
To pick up scissors
And cut a lifetime length
Like I were…God,
The temptation;
Knowing ribbons that adorn
Can also hang;
Rewind it, twist, grasp, push
Against the spool;
Throw it at the clocks
And curse the years;
But the pin - the precious pin
That holds the end…
It isn't yours
Or mine.