Karen Corinne Herceg

In My Travels

I can’t remember what I left behind…
something in Morocco,
a one-day trip on a ferry with goats
around the rock of Gibraltar,
women swathed in black sheets
oblivious to the heat,
their disallowed energy
herding chickens on the weather worn deck,
coal fired eyes avoiding mine.
I am a woman too,
have herded children, objects and desires.

On this other continent
sweat woven rugs are hawked to me,
okra and moss colored herbal tinctures
hold promises to cure what I cannot;
a swell of odors wafts through
narrow, primeval alleyways,
huddles of figures in stone hollows
bake barbaric bread on stone pallets
extended to me by nomadic hands,
primary sustenance
like old communion
dry and stiff on my tongue.
A curved backed Bedouin
shines a seller’s smile
a toothless mouth and beggar’s hand
offering objects I can take home
to narrate my journey.

Back at the hotel
the coast of Spain is blurred
through a rain embossed window,
tears streaking
for the sweater I left behind
in the store of the ruby frocked merchant,
fez tassel swirling among his wares.
And all the spoils and discount deals
cannot replace the history of my sweater
sitting alone an ancient culture away,
never to come home again.

Feline Intensity

She regards him
with a feline intensity
the pierce of question
disguised as bravado
fake it ‘till you make it
says the swish of the tail
the come hither
bait and switch love trap
that knows you want it
so she gives it
hoarding triumph
like a flag
while gazing in the moist aftermath
her sleek eyes following sky-framed rooftops
that keep reaching.

Cats never look hurt:
just indignant.

A Thin Season
(For a young man beheaded for listening to Western pop tunes
in his father’s grocery store)

It is a thin season
culling the air of blue breath
choked sudden as a sword
at the throat of a young infidel
the forbidden pop tune of his innocence
still playing in the annals
of his thoughts
kneeling, repetitive, insistent
as the accusations of the faithful
who behead him
on an afternoon like any other
clouds rising
in a decimation of distance
between the neck and heaven.
Isis goddess of love, the moon,
magic and fertility,
a healing sister of deities
daughter of earth and sky,
twists in a massacre
of celestial delusions
bearing the severed body
back to the arms that bore him,
the one who will hear music
no more.

Hudson History
Honoring Pete Seeger

We’ve assumed you
beyond your natural shifts and turns,
morphing historical perspective,
birthing ourselves into your river grace,
iron and metal bridged
across your girth,
wave against will.
Adaptable in a marketable world,
your iconic flow
no exception,
your pristine nature filled
with natives and intruders,
the lush natural and
the burden of the built,
from ambitious towers
to towering trees
to the tread of silence
near old wilderness.
You begin at the north,
the top,
and push your power south,
carrying all,
delivering in a democracy of spirit,
challenged, fierce then passive,
history glinting off your journeys,
truth remaining in your depths,
powering through the harbor,
your own story
obscured by ours.

About the Author

Karen Corinne Herceg graduated magna cum laude from Columbia University with a B.A. in Literature & Writing and has graduate credits in editing, revision and psychology. A recipient of N.Y. State grants, she has featured at major venues such as The New York Public Library, The Queens Museum, The Provincetown Playhouse, St. John’s University, Binghamton Community Poets, C.A.P.S. (Calling All Poets Series) and many others with such renowned poets as Pulitzer Prize winners John Ashbery and Philip Schultz and poet William Packard, founder of The New York Quarterly. She has studied with David Ignatow, Philip Schultz and writer/novelist Glenda Adams. Karen was co-founder and editor of The First East Coast Theatre & Publishing Company which published poetry by Anna Adams, Stuart Kaufman, Roger Steigmeier and a novel by Charles Powers.

Her first volume of poems is Inner Sanctions. Nirala Publications released her second book, Out From Calaboose: New Poems, in November 2016. She publishes poetry, prose and essays in a variety of magazines and literary journals. Karen’s most recent publications include Antioch University’s Lunch Ticket Journal, The Avalon Literary Review, MockingHeart Review, Badlands, The Furious Gazelle, Thought Collection Journal, Kind of a Hurricane Press, The Writing Disorder, Literary Mama, Front Porch Review, Paulinskill Poetry Project, Orange Sullivan Magazine, Chronogram, Inkwell, Reminisce—a publication of Readers Digest-- and several publications in the U.K. Her work is read on various radio broadcasts, and she has been interviewed by The Epoch Times. Karen is currently working with Khalilah Ali, writing her memoirs as the former wife of the legendary Muhammad Ali.

Karen is a member of Poets & Writers, The Academy of American Poets, PEN America, The Poetry Society of America and C.A.P.S. and is a featured poet on the New York poetry scene. Her website is: www.karencorinneherceg.com and you can also follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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