Catrice Greer

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the poet

Baltimore-based writer Catrice Greer is a 2021 nominee for The Pushcart Prize who spent November 2020 serving as a Poet-In-Residence for the Cheltenham Poetry Festival. Catrice has been published in several local publications and online journals, as well as in an international anthology. She's currently a Guest Editor for IceFloe Press, and Guest Poetry reviewer for Fevers of the Mind.

the poems

Cortical Cartography

00:00 / 01:54

            I give thanks for you bravely doing this again

            traveling synapse by synapse

            trails of electric pulses

            jumping blackhole gaps

            that used to remember

            holding the dead space

            a new soma body

            birthing from bleating darkness

            show us the nucleus

            the middles

            of what we were made of


            Axons spread

            like kamikaze flying squirrel bodies

            with arms akimbo

            reaching

            dendrites touching


            Grateful for even

            this axon potential

            sometimes on

            sometimes off


            Praise for brave

            synaptic

            dives and jumps


            Grateful for re-birthed

            myelin insulating

            protecting

            making sure that we traffic on

            our way by the quickest route

            charged

            in this dark matter

            discovery-space


            This astronomy

            building anew,

            wrinkled city of light,

            crevices, crannies,

            gyri and sulci,

            ridges and valleys

            jellied,

            crinkled mass

            sectioned by lobes

            all speaking trillions

            simultaneous

            synaptic voices

            prayerfully all at once

            this chatter mines

            the neuronal network

            and we build

            a whole new world

I Am Home

00:00 / 02:20

            Lost you

            Early November

            When the leaves started falling

            And time faded backward


            Sitting here crocheting

            Stitching memories

            one loop at a time

            Your voice in my head swirling

            Humming a hymn, your favorite

            And I sing each note yearning, solemn

            As if you’d appear suddenly

            solo into a duet and we

            raise our voices as high

            as you ascended when it was time

            For you to be called home


            I rock

            quietly ashen stilted lone tree

            Swaying

            In a wood still lush

            knowing I sit with a pain

            I can barely speak the name

            awash with memories of you

            and the absent space

            we called your chair, dresser, your place at the table

            the place we used to go every Friday,

            your touch, your smile beaming

            a side-eye on an inside joke between us,

            The memory that had your name all over it that our family can’t tell anymore

            without crying, laughing, wishing you here


            And one day

            I will see your face again


            We will see you

            Feel you

            As your spirit is so close in the air here near me

            Near us

            vibrating in the humming

            I believe I can feel you

            We will never forget you

            A whisper softly tells me:


            'I am home'

The Gathering

00:00 / 03:14

            Hear ye, hear ye

            We are gathered here today

            family, friends, enemies,

            enemies of my enemies


            We are here at the black hole mouth

            of this isolated cave

            in the grief painted

            infected unknown space

            to bury our dead among us


            Those dead things between us

            that hold us back


            Those things we no longer speak

            Those things that twine and whip round

            our vocal chords

            that prevent the i’m sorries

            i miss yous, i love yous

            the pieces that bumble forward

            like an emotionally blind man heady on drink

            bumbling home too late

            for whatever he was meant to be there for

            knocking over sentimentals, and traditions,

            passed down collectibles shattered

            in pieces launched

            jagged landmine shards

            speckling the ground


            Our DNA, our ancestors,

            mothers, fathers,

            grandmothers, grandfathers long gone

            our creators ask us to stand here together

            Ask ourselves

            if in this space we will abandon

            Our old skins

            Our old breath

            and choose to share anew


            Can we bury this dead thing between us all

            so we can

            stand wrapped in sinew, tendons, blood¹

            coursing miracles spiraling through the breath lifting us

            in a swirl of meditative purpose

            Can we find a new space

            a sense of being


            We are here in this vortex

            to bury the living dead

            under loam, clay, rocks,

            into the broken soil

            Cover it.

            Mark it as resting here

            never to go forward


            We mark new paths with a sign

            here as we crawl out

            heel to heel ... 6ft apart

            linked in spirit

            life begins anew

            we celebrate together

            mourning yesterdays

            embracing our multicolored confettied

            I forgive yous, littered

            in the air,

            celebrating

            our tomorrows

¹ Ezekiel 37:8 — King James Version:


  'And when I beheld, lo, the sinews and the flesh came up upon them,

  and the skin covered them above: but there was no breath in them.'

Publishing credits

Cortical Cartography: Silver Spring Town Center Newsletter

  (Ancestral Voices 2020)

I Am Home: Afro-American Newspaper (Baltimore Edition)

The Gathering: first published under the title Elegy

  in the Silver Spring Town Center Newsletter (Vol. 8, Issue 9)