Issue 30: Kate Behrens

Seven Days on the Hill


The hill is an asterisk in the white spaces.

The hill, as knitted matter,

has no trajectories.




Like stars half-remembered as the non-fixtures

of promise (greener, redder, perhaps

leading somewhere) and seemingly afloat,

rock rose flowers flutter…




Leaves of bushes rustle-up

an otherness that comes

and goes. A damp-flannel drizzle is little

of what soil needs, but enough

to still rock roses.




Marjoram, buttercups and a mowerʼs stuttering

start-up block out new construction sitesʼ

bite at a fragment of birdsong.

On the hilltop the mutter of humans fades

to an undercurrent.




Dogged dogs in dogwood clumps

and the chiff-chaffsʼ broody banging-on

cheer under loosened cloud

(and those smudgy moods come from a dodgy world-view).




A fieldʼs white smear: not water but daisies,

and the hedge warbler is far from euphoric,

rather, after another male warbler.

Is that crazy laughter or, late in the season,

a woodpecker?

Who is the stranger, loitering here forever?




As if we were cartographers,

our words stain nameless

animals, seem to thread one day

to others, and things glimpsed through mist

or a motorwayʼs haze, get sucked

down neurological pathways…




It must be a cricket of some sort

ticking like a small birdʼs heartbeat,

or the quickening of sequestered

thoughts, that flit from the hill to your existence,

till all I can see are ribwortʼs shadows

that dot a few feet in front of my foot.






Toxic Positivity




There is an owl who drools

his dream on the lip

between waking and sleep.


Or thatʼs how it seems,

as they appear, in a different guise,

choosing (through a whitened lens)

views without depths and shade.


At times you think fight

gazing into dark they refute,

but someone has to keep us safe.


Dark grows deep against too bright.


Now sunrise quietens him,

and your eyes are forced to look again.




Up on the hill, harsh wind, unfinished business

that time neglects to heal,

yet a gentler horizon,


small birds in the thorns, redwings maybe,

or a curl of smoke that crawls on the air

like something seeping,

a paused deer,

untouched by human,


relieve accusing eyes of blame.

What remains unsaid

is subsumed with the voices of those who died.






Lime Tree, Mid-Summer / Dream Bird




The blind witness fingers too-warm air, arms full

of owls: a foil to repetitive cycles

made by some souped-up car

grazing the night on hard bends,

as though we must not forget





A dented moon blazes

through windows, where labyrinths of dream

endowed more animals with messages:

tonight a bird landed on me ʽat home.ʼ

Pure love—I walked it to freedom.

Perhaps it was her, on her anniversary,

but why not believe in every lifeʼs capacity

to shame, or bring sacred relief.

Kate Behrens fourth collection, Transitional Spaces was published by Two Rivers Press in April 2022. Other poems have appeared in journals and anthologies including Mslexia, Blackbox Manifold, Stand, The High Window, Poetry Salzburg Review, Wild Court, An Anthology of Poetry, The Arts of Peace (Two Rivers Press), Axon: Creative Explorations, Rast (where they were translated into Macedonian), Noon and as Oxford Brookesʼ ʽPoem of the Weekʼ. 

Copyright © 2023 by Kate Behrens, all rights reserved. This text may be used and shared in accordance with the fair-use provisions of Copyright law. Archiving, redistribution, or republication of this text on other terms, in any medium, requires the notification of the journal and consent of the author