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The Artist Athlete

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A proud Tahoe resident of six years, Casey Curtis received his master’s in Poetry Writing from San Francisco State University in 2009. His first book of poems, Muscular Butterfly, was published in 2014. Curtis is also an active personal trainer and competitive powerlifter, is part of the management staff at Jake’s on the Lake in Tahoe City, and, more than anything, is working toward the goal of teaching at-risk high school students how to savor the art of reading, writing, and expressing themselves creatively.

Geology Art

They’ll find her scooping out the last

Attachment strands with mystery tools

Like strawberry ice cream from the heart’s left side.

It looks like surgery, but she’d say geology.

They’ll stare closely but lose focus for an instant

And with the smoothness of paper it disappears.

But as much as they matter they also don’t —

(The tree’s shadow is both light and dark,

Each swell of water gives and takes.)

For in her forest the hummingbird is boss,

In her ocean the lobster knows exactly what to say.

And even inside night’s small hand when no one watches,

It’s this geology art she practices,

Again and again and again,

her bottle in a ship and won’t stop spinning.

Heart Face

they used to tell me that

the shape of you I saw

was something else entirely,

that your face was really not a heart

or that it would one day disappear from me

at least (the way you used to)

but nothing they could say could un-see

the things I swore to you and them and me

And now

your face’s heart exists so obviously

in the hands of two friends shaking,  

in languages of your body

as it slices angles thin as nickels

to get to me, it’s everywhere, and sometimes

it feels like I’m screaming that even

when horses gallop across fence-lines

to see the sun melt sugar over its stars to stay out longer —

it’s there as well.

Eyes can be deaf as ears

and so it goes, but anyway,

I tell them now

your face is symmetrical and in the shape of a heart

and I tell them now

that you are, I tell them now,

you are everything I said you were.

If I Don’t Go Crazy

If you read this poem when parts of our skies

mesh with parts of skies we thought were gone,

a nervous world can go back to being just a word.

You can look up and up

until you know my face

could actually be our face

and that blue is a color that goes with many things.

And, just in case I don’t go crazy

in the meantime, prepare to memorize

the way wrinkles shoot love arrows into my cheeks,

and how a heart is a heart until it widens even wider.

Because without all this, the world seems even crazier than we are.

She Speaks Over High Tea

I never asked for you to rearrange the order

Of your room, not for me, at least, but there it was

That evening, or had night slipped its foot inside

While I was out, who knows, but there it was,

And so was I, a woodland creature returned at last,

Unsure of this new channel, but mostly, of if

Your hand in mine felt smaller, or maybe larger,

But you said it was time, time simply, for a new look,

And I, I with my new heart squatting over the old, spoke

Words that made your face feel like a steel bucket in mine

After last drops of water had been poured

Away, away over a fire not yet dead, but dying.

The Color of Most Things

She’s telling the speckled woodland

Secrets she has never told herself

Upon a horse whose gallop covers years and years.

The swish-sound parts her lips and speaks

To every memory she passes

As the moon turns gold across her shoulder line.

No square inch of heart left behind,

Her eyes the color of most things

And incredibly, the tracks along the pathway

Show her tiny feet and not her steed’s.

Mid-step, she remembers years ago

How she tore her blindfold off at last

Like chainmail from a butterfly,

And how her world this night

Is a bed of flowers, trampled, though still thriving

Somehow, in a lovely dirt.

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February 14, 2019