Catherine Moore – Three Poems


Museum of What We Choose to Call Love

Life is a performance art
I think, watching a red screaming
atonement of sundown fade across
the family pond. An evening bruise
fills the sky, See… I begin but
it’s the shoulder-height held cigarette
that’s her focus, each glowing ash waits
under vigil until it’s oval shaped, near spent
then tapped into an over-flowing copper bowl.
Thirty-eight… she counts. A smile appears
as if she’s admiring the contents of a jewelry box.
At the next wind beat, a fiery ash flutters off
apropos of nothing in the guise of a sky lantern
and she chases it like a child down the bluff
imagining all her thoughts could be
floating away. I lean on the porch column
discarded in a hand-me-down effigy
Not tonight, please… though mother pretends
not to hear— a denial of innermost voids
over an impossible gibberish of cicadas.
I tug on her beige cardigan and ease her back
into an overstocked galley kitchen,
wedging us past its floor-to-ceiling stacks
a life’s collection of bric-a-brac and rubbish
shadow-warped under the fluorescents.


Morning Sidewalk Story

Every day this week
I’ve happened on a different page
of “Goodnight Moon”
strewn along my walkway.
In water-frayed edges and stained faces
the pages stare up at me
each gray dawn
on the abandoned street.

First the great green room beckons
as the good night ends,
and I have to lean in close to see
its dark and quiet phone.
Oh no, pair of mittens weather bitten.
Oh no, little toy house soused in rain.
Oh yes, red balloon,
there is something about littl’ rabbit mama
rocking and knitting,
that reminds me of Nana Jane’s hush.

But it’s Goodnight mush sticking in my mind,
that child-size bowl and simple spoon
now barely stained on faded paper
left to asphalt and tire tracks.
I try to remember— Goodnight owl?
Goodnight song? No, that’s wrong.
This worn-eyed wind tells me
to go home. Read it again.

Which is how I lost an afternoon—
tossing through boxes
Goodnight fable?
Goodnight mantra?
No, Goodnight nobody,
this sad and strange tale I find,
Goodnight air,
in a sacred text of babyhood.
Hush, still we tuck in the little ones each night,
Goodnight noises everywhere.



I don’t want to be strung up in a strong light and singled out.
I’ve been the vein singing, vision coursing, white-hot pinch of God’s thumb.
I want to ember slowly, dim with the passing dawns,
mingle in the stretch between constellations,
go down in a soft drift towards the unnamed.
I want what the auroras want. To pass back into the black mustard seed.


Author’s Statement on Beauty

I love the souls who find beauty everywhere. Like in William Carlos Williams’ poem “Between Walls” the speaker describes a particular image, in a passageway by the “back wings” of a hospital. The setting is one of those barely acknowledged places, trashy parts of everyday life in urban societies, a place “where nothing will grow.” Yet, the speaker is captivated by a “shine” glowing inside a broken green bottle. This is beauty. Not a cast-off cigarette butt or an alley strewn with shards of glass, but this individual, this sort of perspective that finds green jewels amongst the dust and cinders in our unloved spaces.


Catherine Moore is the author of three collections including Wetlands (Dancing Girl Press). Her work appears in Southampton Review, Caesura, Mid-American Review, Still: the Journal, Pilgrimage Magazine and in various anthologies. A Walker Percy and Hambidge fellow, her honors include the 2014 Gearhart Poetry Prize and a Nashville MetroArts grant. She’s tweetable @CatPoetic.