Katie Daley

Since 1999, Katie Daley has been raising a ruckus of goose bumps and exclamations on the performance poetry circuit across the U.S. and Canada. She is a seasoned veteran of four National Poetry Slams, and in 2004, she won third place in the World Competition of the Canadian Wordlympics in Ottawa. Since the summer of 2001, Katie and her inner quintet of characters have been hitting the road on a regular basis to bring Full Blast Alive: Voices from the Ruby Side, her one-woman show of poetic monologues, to various venues around the USA and Canada.

Katie's work has been published in various journals and anthologies, including Seneca Review, Puckerbrush Review, Pudding Magazine, ArtCrimes, Take Back the Mic, and Freedom to Speak: National Poetry Slam 2002. She has produced Full Blast Alive: Voices from the Ruby Side, a CD of her show, as well as three chapbooks: Red Hot Mangoes and Voodoo Juice (2000), Coyote at the Wheel (2003) and Venus and the Hitchhikers (2007).

In 2003, Katie received an Individual Artists Fellowship from the Ohio Arts Council, and in 2004, she was the Summer Fellow at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Massachusetts. She is also the recipient of a 2006 Individual Creativity Excellence Award from the Ohio Arts Council. Of all the occupations in the cosmos, she's chosen to be a poet because it's the one that makes her feel the most present and alive. It's her hope that the poems she writes make that feeling as contagious as possible.

Official site

Moving In, Provence
by Katie Daley

We found six scorpions asleep on the wall upstairs,
straggled like lobsters along the cracks in the plaster.
It would have been easy enough to kill them,
so I took off my sandal and we stood there, poised.

But cicadas clicked and whirred
in the gone heat beyond the sill,
the sun leaned back and tenderly forgot us
out there in the melon droop of sky and grapevines
humped across land
that came right up to the cool rim of stone
we hoped to live in.

The scorpions waited, as still and speechless as anyone
we knew or could remember, and in that light
killing was impossible. When night moved in
we pulled the bed away from the wall and lay down,
listened to the fig tree in the yard drop its figs
like someone circling the house, someone
contemplating us, sheet balled in our fists,
our Swiss army knives
drying on a towel by the sink downstairs.

No one there. We kicked the blankets and talked
about the apricots we'd pick tomorrow
for 35 francs an hour, up in the orchard behind the house,
their roundness already cooling our palms.

The moon was down and so the world grew toward us,
trilled the stone, while its grapes, still hard as knots,
rang against leaf veins and wire
whenever a breeze heaved up the valley
or stooped through the open window,
bringing to us no dark purple breath, no bruise of wine,
only the broken aroma of plowed earth and the coo
of a French farm dog down the road
who had dreamed of strangers
all the way from there.

by Katie Daley

The cherry trees in Monsieur Coupon's orchards
are heavy with child
and we are delivering them to his buckets
heavy with us--fruit pickers from Morocco, America, France and Spain
breaking water and climbing pillars of our own salt
up from South of France soil
into cherry leaves
Van Gogh sunswirls
sour pangs of labor and earth twirls of toil

On the first day out
the granddaddy from Spain calls me down
his voice heat-cracked and stained red-brown
from hauling his days across the long lonesome plain
of working for the man

He shows me I've bruised chickadee cherries
by dropping them like gravel into bucket
Ne sont pas pierres, he says
These are not stones, he says
then parts cherry leaves like lover hair
caresses before plucking
puckers his lips and lays them longingly down
Otherwise, he smiles,
Le patron ne sera pas content
The boss man will not be happy

Meanwhile his sons and daughters
have set free an entire tree from its responsibilities
made it a child again
The Moroccans too--generations of francs and daydreams
and buckets ahead of Suzy and me
Le patron ne sera pas content
It's as annoying as the walls of paradise
and the story of my life

But when we stop to roll tobacco smoke
and broken French across our tongues
Rachid tells us this is bad but better than
picking grapes in Bavaria
and Luc and Didier the French boys
ask if we know Stevie Wonder and if we love him
and when Mohammed
begs off our cherry sandwiches
he flashes a smile directly
into my dark red emptiness

So in the mid-afternoon swing of it
the plink-plunk groove of it
when desire goes thumping with fruit into bucket
and nobody wording but a bird or two
a Moroccan voice bellows out
sing-song German from top of tree:
Arbeit ist Scheise! Work is shit!
everybody knows it's Rachid gonging from the belfry
rooster-cocking the proclamation

That this grind is just manure
out of which rises tent walls
supper after the sun goes down
the bite of global swear words cleansing our palates
beer and cigarettes and the promise
of all this being over someday

Our fingers in somebody's hair
no longer looking for the fruit

But all day long sun hangs in galaxy
world barely ticks
the round weight of something better than this
unravels in our hands
then grows heavy, then unravels
then ripens and bruises and drops away
and Arbeit ist Sheise!
and laughter is our bread and butter
and Le patron ne sera pas content
but he will never be content

So whatever contentedness is left in the world will be ours
So somebody loan me a dime, a minute, a language
so I can say it again:
Grandfathers, Stevie Wonder lovers,
burning muscles, beautiful limbsó
The bosses in this world refuse to be content
therefore All the contentedness is ours
Fruit in paradise, dream under ribs, kiss on lipsó
Wake up, free your hands
take it in
pass it on

A Break in the Weather

by Katie Daley

After you left
it rained for weeks
There was that war we started
that never really ended
leaders who grabbed their crotches
and called each other names

We were in trouble, it was true
but that had always been the case

And now the day
had crowbarred an opening through the downpour
and let itself in

Everything was visible here
even foolishness
the mountain stream clear as heartbreak
Though when I dove deep
I wasn't sure if it was a law of physics
or desire
that kept lifting me

In the distance
I knew there were explosions and betrayals
but all I could remember was the sun
warming the granite boulder I lay on

A dragonfly zagged out from my solar plexus
The stream bent time and carried it out of sight

I wanted everything in this world
including disaster
and loneliness
every loss was astounding
and I wanted to know each one
even paradise
by heart

All poems copyright (c) 2005 Katie Daley


photo by Wendy Shaffer