Monthly Poetry Magazine

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MAY 2016

Ms. Kay Renz


Kay Renz, living in Sonoma County California, Kay Renz served as Poetry page editor for the women’s newspaper, Women’s Voices from 1996-2009. Her work has been published in many anthologies: First Leaves Anthology, Poets of the Vineyard Anthology, The Ina Coolbrith Anthology, The Sonoma Mandala, Crazy Ladies, The  California Quarterly, Tight, Women’s Voices Anthology and Green Fuse, for which she served 5 years as one of the founding editors. Her poetry has won many prizes, such as Grand prize in the 2013 Ina Coolbrith contest, 2nd prize in the Artists Embassy International contest, 2015, and two 1st prizes in United Poets Laurette International (UPLI) Global contest in 2015. Her books are Cauliflowered Veteran, Gestating Hope, Unexpected Pedestrian, and recently retired from Santa Rosa Junior College as an English instructor, she is working on Peeves & Glories, a compilation of pissed off & Halleluiah pieces written through two decades.


I believe a poet’s job is to witness. The poet’s challenge, as a human being, is to be present and willing to express the pain, anger and/or joy of the moment in language that shows the soul connection of human experience, and my hope is that others who read/hear what I’ve created can say, “I know…. I understand….”





After Retirement: Disconnecting


Shredding  official documents of cumulated  life

that word  what  I was, I read, comment,  “Really?

She did that? She/I     said/wrote   that?”  Throat closes,

breath stops to awe the being I didn’t know I’d been—

pugilist for change, warrior woman battling institutional mindsets,

rigid, frigid men in high positions, fixed in ways who relegated

decisions to underlings to interpret/misinterpret and

act upon, then stonewalled in denial of wrong results.


The paper-trail shows ice walls climbed or melted;

I endured  34 years, collecting contracts that promised

dismissal, termed my jobs  “temporary,”

Adjunct, every semester needing renewal, indicating

she/I would never be a “Regular” instructor, implying

she/I didn’t want to become permanent, stay

to guide multitudes of  humans seeking  growth ….


Colleagues, directors, teachers and others wrote letters

I caress, recommending, praising the work, the who of what I was,

what I sought/ fought for years to become but was denied

because, a rebel for the cause, I  championed change

against the status quo, so didn’t fit the accepted mold.


Tearing up paperwork, words and numbers,

an applauded/ fulfilling past with students/friends

is discarded to avoid someone hacking the journey

of identity that could be stolen, ruined,

the tale of who I did become.


Strips of digits, name and signature slip between metal

grinding jaws, humming, chewing up all proof

of what I was/was not, and a sadness descends as I remember

that someone who seldom felt complete

affinity in profession, look into the filling trash bag

and say to the young/old woman, “It’s OK. Let go.

We’re movin’ on.”



…And This Is Progress?


Homo Sapiens has now evolved

to where he holds

every creature’s comfort

in his too hot hands.

(balls juggle in space)

This life who spawned across

the earth billions of itself

these few million years

now holds all the balls in one hand,

his genitals in the other

and masturbates his mind.

(many balls spin suspended)

Genes and molecules,

atoms of creation, yo-yo

on a slender thread,

turning overhead

while Man-the-Wise drools

pondering his balls

and all the ball games

he can play

with everyone’s balls.



Conflict Within


My brother lies, tubes and drains linking him to life

after three surgery attempts to fix what should’ve been

a simple gall bladder removal.


On morphine drip, he drifts in and out

while body battles bigger foes: Diabetes, Hep C,

enemies that have been hunting him,

shooting spirit down for 20 years,

and now fatally wounded,

wracked with pain, exhausted,

he hovers, watching, from limbo,

while siblings and his children pray;

his soul wanders, wondering

whether to let go or not.


We would have a miracle,

but know the predators who stalk his flesh

are relentless; cirrhosis wrought by the virus

injected from a needle when a recruit, already

destroys his liver, and healing with diabetes

threatens gangrene, a demon soldiers fight in every war:

wounds like those received from Vietnam, Afghanistan.


Each second he survives is a battle for existence

my brother must decide he wants to prolong to

“not go gentle into that good night” for us, and to us

doctors surrender, say, “We’ve done all we can,”


It’s all up to a man who has said he doesn’t care

to re-enter another warzone where unseen enemies

attack with limitless power.






When a pack of jackals trails a family, unseen ghosts in genes,

there is this constant fear of attack, yet little to be done

but retreat, assess danger, plot course to be ready for if—

for whatever reality presents.


Having gained the wisdom of age (and not yet senile)

I have seen siblings suffer diabetes, heart failure,

the cancer my mother lost her breast and life to, and watched

my great aunt slip slowly into the infancy of Alzheimer’s,

but I didn’t see the deep tracks stalking the family of the boy

I once loved, the man who fathered my children.


That jackal reared its ugly, evil head to devour his father,

two of his brothers and finally him. I discovered the inheritance,

Huntington’s disease, way too late for me to flee with eggs

my children would be, the people they would become

too late to change sorrow’s course as kin dropped,

like rusting camellia petals, intelligence and life

trembling away day by day.


Anxiety, paranoia, travel my nightmares now that I know

what phantom beast lingers ahead in possible tomorrows.

I face the chimera before my children, the fear, beseeching

invisible forces that we may still avoid the jaws

that could seize each one, seek the fifty percent chance

that could set us free, elude the fatal gene mutation.

I run from shadows, behaviors that warn, do small things

to clean up messes, accidents, say, “Slow down. Concentrate,”

encourage medical checkups—everything to deny that the beasts

already rip gaps in my daughter’s awareness of budgets,

ability to pick up things.


A DNA test could curse or bless us,

make our lives Hell or Heaven, but in refusing to claim

her father’s legacy, she chooses Limbo,

and I am damned.