black steel fire exit lot

Poetry No. 75 – Kathy Kremins


by Kathy Kremins

What’s in a name but home
spaces filled with other’s notions
of who I am to them inhabited
by the performance of love, or not,
name left for another name
but staying to haunt, a ghost
of tender moments and tense encounters,
a tattoo of the person I am always becoming.

Martin Jude in my pre-birth form, red-haired
giant of an Irish grandfather +
the patron saint of hopeless cases,
re-written by my mother’s disappointment
in a girl baptized Kathleen Ann
for both grandmothers cursed with early death,
with a sexy Margaret added by the Archbishop
in Sacred Heart Cathedral at my confirmation
where I crushed all the questions
with answers backed by heresy and sass.
High school of Kathleens, Ellens, Marys
and Marias christened with last names
to avoid the confusion of teen identities
while stoking our revolt against the patriarchy.
Nicknames from teaching and coaching,
shortened versions, initials, and my favorite,
Dr. K, not because of the Dr, but for the reminder
of my favorite basketball player, Julius Irving,
Dr. J, although I played in suede blue Clydes.

As if there again, transported, these hours of snow
soothe me back to the cold apartment over the deli
where you kissed me for the first time. I opened
my eyes to the moon littered with flakes,
your breath on my neck whispering “Kath.”

That home has long vanished despite the specter
of you in every touch and soft look.
I live now with bodies of other women
in gentle boxes floating on a screen
creating new habitats to inhabit.
I am Kat; poems are my sanctuary.

Kathy Kremins (she/her) is a Newark, NJ native of immigrant parents and a retired public school teacher. Her poetry chapbook, Undressing the World, is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press. Kathy’s recent work appears in Soup Can Magazine, The Night Heron Barks, Paterson Literary Review, Stay Salty; Life in the Garden State Anthology, The Stillwater Review, Lavender Review, Divine Feminist: An Anthology of Poetry & Art By Womxn and Non-Binary Folx and other publications.

Photo by Brett Sayles on

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