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Hubba Hubba copyright 1995 by Katharine Harer

Poet Bio
    Katharine Harer

Sample Poems
    Hazards         Lucky 7         The Mammogram

Poet Bio

Katharine Harer photo by Mark Ziemann

Katharine Harer was born in Oakland, CA in 1949. She studied at San Francisco State University and the University of Nevada at Reno. She has worked with the California Poets in the Schools Program since 1978 as a poet-teacher and as Executive Director. She's also been a California Arts Council Poet in Residence in two high schools. For eight years she ran the Small Press Traffic Literary Arts Center in San Francisco. She teaches full-time at Skyline Community College. Her poetry has been published in magazines and anthologies as well as in three small press collections: Spring Cycle (Encato, San Francisco), In these Bodies (Moving Parts Press, Santa Cruz) and The Border (Bombshelter Press, Los Angeles). She lives with her son, Leo, and their dog, Dusty.

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I have a new lover, an ex-husband, a son who screams
in the night, finance charges, fruit getting ripe
in the kitchen.
I don't have time to notice the size of the moon.
Pinned to the mailbox is a note from the neighbor:
"The weeds in front of your apartment building are a hazard."
How can plants cause trouble?

My son calls out from his bed
my heart races afraid I'll have to comfort him.
I rock myself to remember safety
alone at night the bed next to the telephone
my scarf collection on hooks
on the bedroom door.

Gerarniums have taken over the curb
tangled like uncombed hair
they stick in the car door
every morning when we leave for school.
There's the tug then the stems break.
Each day I drive away a little faster.
Geranium leaves sticky and soft
all over the floor.

Leo holds his lunch bag tight.
Mom who has me tonight
you or Daddy?
When are you gonna
get a new car this one's junky.

At the stop sign I touch his hair
and the soft ridge of his neck.
In a little while, I say, in a little while.
Copyright ©1995 Katharine Harer

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Lucky 7

I love jukeboxes in dark, middle aged bars
old songs like signs of family
Three college boys talk about ghosts: Do you believe in 'em?
Yeah—I'm Catholic
I press 189—Otis Redding—Try A Little Tenderness
The bartender calls me lovely and spikes my drink
the guy next to me orders a double martini
off work from the shoe repair across the street
I don't think my dad's gonna come back, one boy says
mine either, I think

Otis Redding's been dead, Sarah's gone now, the bronze
curves of her voice are gone, I miss her
like I won't let myself miss my aunt
murdered in her nightgown in that cow town at the tip
of Highway 5, blood-stained, unreachable
I press 205—Benny Goodman—Someone To Watch Over Me

I can see my parents stopping in at this bar in the early years
before children and dinner on the table
I press 105—Duke Ellington—Satin Doll
Sam the shoe man sings along
Hey, when you make love to your old man, think of me
he laughs for a long time
Tell me what that song is, one boy yells to
his buddy standing over the jukebox
Satan Doll, he says, knowing it's wrong
but not how to make it right
It's alright, Sam says, it's all the same
and buys me another drink

I'm seeing my mother in Manhattan, single, cultivating
a taste for Scotch
I'm feeling the starch and cotton on my lips
where I pressed my lipstick mouth against your white shirt
I'm thinking about the love poems I can't write
the water I can't name: Hudson, Harlem, East River—
give me a hint

Monk's gone, Chet Baker's passed, Billie's long gone
I'm not gonna let it get to me
I press 267 on the box and get Sophisticated Lady
the bartender hums along with his rag

Copyright ©1995 Katharine Harer

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The Mammogram

I slip the top part of my cotton dress down
undo my bra and there I am, two naked breasts
facing her, waiting for what to do
she belts a heavy x-ray protector around my hips
and makes a joke about a fashion statement

She holds my breast in the palm of her hand
and places it on a metal shelf, arranges it
like a decoration, just so
then she tells me to lift my head up and away
so it won't block the picture
I pose, swimsuit-model-arch in my neck
one arm hooked around the side of the machine
feeling very VOGUE

She pushes my breast more firmly to the metal plate
and tells me to hold my breath
"I'm in this gorgeous pose, forgetting about the cold
under my skin, my grandmother who lost her breast
to cancer when I was in junior high
and she snaps the picture

Then she lifts my other breast and arranges it
there's a gentleness to her hand on my skin
not like a lover, not at all like a doctor
searching for pea-sized lumps, rolling my breasts around
for problems
her hand is the way I want to be touched
I'm willing to stretch and stop breathing
momentarily for her and the picture

"You must see a lot of dfferent breasts," I say
hoping she'll say something nice about mine
that they're cooperative, or just pretty
"Oh yes," she says, "we see them all."

I'm usually nervous about pictures and what the camera
will show, what the eye behind the lens really sees
but she doesn't want anything from me
or my breasts
and for once my face and its busyness
is out of the picture
separated from my smile
or the need to use it
I feel almost beautiful.
Copyright ©1995 Katharine Harer

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