Squamata

I used to swim with seahorses
but found them to be inconstant.

(How do you love again when someone gives up on you as a person?)

Now I live with the lizards.
Baking on hot stone.
Shielding my heart from those unworthy.

Each of my scales
has enough surface area
to scribe
all of your h e a r t b r e a k s
come
close
I will wrap myself around you.

My mother called me coldblooded
even though my heart pulses with warmth
(& I place it on display in galleries
where photographs are not permitted.)

I know what it’s like to feel
submerged in an ocean of pain & anger,
the dark waters lapping
like a sadistic metronome.

(Always give yourself permission to change the tempo.)

I will shed my skin
once I have collected
a thousand heartbreaks
& written them down
with the ink of my venom.

I will remove myself
from myself
& give it to you
as a new set of armor.

& go back to studying
the evolution
of
my
venom.

 

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5 9 2017

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There are three cans of paint:

one is pain
one is fear
one is anger.

For years, I’ve tried to mute these colors
or hide them in the basement of my soul,
willing spiders spin a shroud around them—
and yet, the three cans still remain.
***

I was buying a bottle of whiskey
at Harvest Spirits on 30th and Arapahoe
and I see this German Shepherd puppy
who is a service dog in training.
She looks up at me from her place in line
and then eyes the basket of small bottles
of Bacardi Rum. She takes one in her mouth
and shakes it around like a chew toy.
The store clerk is afraid she’ll get drunk.
Her owner says she’ll pay for it if the teeth
puncture the plastic. The owner returns the
bottle, intact, but covered in slobber.
“What’s her name?” I ask.
“Hilde. Short for Broomhilde.”
“Cute,” I reply, searching for my phone,
which is in my car. Broomhilde leaves.
I buy my whiskey, which is called Larceny.

***
I would rather write about
Broomhilde
the service puppy
and how she almost
drank a shot of
Bacardi Rum
than force myself
to write
about the cans of paint
stored in the
basement of my soul.

Their excavation is inevitable
and the paint fumes seep up
into my psyche on occasion.

If I’m feeling strong enough,
I’ll take a sniff.

Amber Days & Toys

Some days disappear like childhood toys.

Wearing down slowly,
the fibers disintegrating.
Impossible to remember in detail.

Once cherished, the days and the toys
evaporate into corners of memory,
next to the now unpaired socks
we were sure we once washed.

We do not mourn the loss.

The disappearances repeat
on a familiar amber loop that is
both warm and cold to the touch.

Radiating heat.
Expelling cold.

A gentle, inevitable sizzling
that echoes only if we stop to listen.

Charcoal & Chiclets

2016 was a samovar filled with
indifference, intolerance and
a myriad of other self-boiling
elements that took us far away
from tranquility.

Unbeknownst to us, palpable walls
began to rise at a preternatural rate,
built of pepper and spite.

A mouth cannot make
another mouth
understand
if it is
intertwined with
brazen privilege.

Listen: we may tempted
to dump Benzodiazepine
into the waters of 2017.
Rewiring our brains.
Sedating us.

Or seek to terraform Mars,
creating a peace-filled
escape hatch, 54.6 million
kilometers away.

Here’s hoping we instead
have the prescience
to envision a better year.

To live it with zeal and grace.
Choosing gemütlich over schadenfreude.

2016 is done.

In 2017, new work begins.

charcoal

 

Skorpios

Sidney_Hall_-_Urania's_Mirror_-_Scorpio

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was sent forth by Gaia to slay a giant.
Eight legs. Dark heart. Venom in my tail.

My instinct was to grab goddesses with my hooked stingers.

Now I live in the firmament. A constellation.

I devoured Libra’s stars and made them my claws.

My destiny is to share the night sky with Orion.
I am chasing him into eternity.
You’ll never see us at the same time.

I watch earth with a stubborn hope.
Some day to return.

To kill every injustice with my ferocity.
Inject my toxins into each bigot,
drive intolerance to extinction with my rancor.

One loves more deeply with a dark heart.
Considering the expense of each emotion.

Watch me gleam in the cimmerian heavens.
I am making my way back to you with

s
t
a
r
l
i
g
h
t.

Vows for a Feminist Marriage

I promise to love you without limits.
Breaking down the gender binary
one square inch of bubble wrap
at a time.

I am yours through sickness
and through health, yes,
but also through
smashing the patriarchy.

Together we will combat
microaggressions with
unassailable tenacity
and tenderness.

I promise to love and honor you.
We will obey the rules we write.
And not what has come before.

We will build a world for our children
that doesn’t mute the pink and blue
but brings forward all the colors
of their rainbow.

Whether taking a sledgehammer to glass ceilings,
or explaining the necessity of intersectionality,
or making sure that female superheroes line the shelves, too—
I am yours and you are mine.

Utterly.

Equally.

Completely.

 

The poem was commissioned by Kacey Shiflet by contributing to education fund to attend Naropa University’s MFA in Contemporary Performance. Want your own custom poem? Learn more here: https://www.youcaring.com/katie-woodzick-585387

Crisp Sentiment

I am not an easy person to love.

My heart is brittle.

Accessible only
to the most skilled
and delicate of
excavations.

A thin wire tool
scrapes away
the detritus
of heartbreak.

The accumulation
of self-loathing
and skewed
perception
of self-worth.

Perhaps warmth
will reside within again.

On a sherbert-colored day.

When the wind discovers its arms.

Binding

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We fear what we can’t define.

I come to you, cupping my breasts:
these sometimes strangers
negating my newfound pronouns.

Have you ever bound your chest?
The first time, I did it with elastic bandages:
another actor walking around my chest,
securing the bust espionage with
metal fasteners. It took three rolls.
Safe beneath a tuxedo shirt, mustard vest
and green velveteen coat (with tails),
I felt a sense of power and freedom
that ended up meaning more than
I could comprehend at the time.

I have two binders now; they are safer.
They flatten tissue without the harsh
compression of fluids. I pull them
over my shoulders and delight
in the flatness of my chest.

A passerby yells
“Hey, white boy!”

And my heart leaps
outside of the binding.

Stepping Behind the Scenes of The 39 Steps*

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As many of you know, I’ve been working on The 39 Steps. Playing Clown #2 in this production has been one of the most rewarding acting experiences of my life. Seriously. 

The reason I’m able to transition so seamlessly between my nineteen characters is because of crew member Evan Ray. I jokingly refer to him as “my handler.” Honestly, there aren’t adjectives adequate enough to express how wonderful he is, but I’ll try: Evan is one of the sharpest, most intelligent humans I have ever met. His meticulous organizational skills are mind-bending, he is always at the ready with a bottle of water and a fan so that I don’t keel over and he has the magical ability to keep himself and me calm throughout the backstage frenzy. He is as much a part of building my characters as my acting craft. 

Please enjoy this post he’s written about his process behind the scenes.

-Katie

Guest post by Evan Ray:

*Can you find the Alfred Hitchcock references hidden in this essay?

“How far is Winnipeg from Montreal?,” Hannay exclaims from his box in the audience. As Mr. Memory sorts through his extensive intracranial filing cabinet, I head toward the stage right clothing hooks. That was my cue to prepare Katie’s next costume change, the second of over twenty (it’s hard to count!) that will occur throughout the show. There are many instances like this one in the backstage orchestration of The 39 Steps, components of our own behind the scenes blocking that has formed both consciously and unconsciously in rehearsal and run. The play requests a high degree of organization from its stage crew and we make it our goal to bring that to the table (wings and booth?) in return. In a review of paper tech at the start of tech weekend, our stage manager, Kathy Stanley, produced a prompt book that likely contained more lighting, sound, and backstage cues than actual dialogue. My own script is full of graphs and charts reminding me how to position costumes for the most efficient quick-changes and notes about finally remembering not to leave the loops on that one dress over the hanger.

In spite of all our planning, an equivalent amount of creative problem-solving and quick thinking is necessary in a play notorious for rapid-fire action. If an actor is exiting the stage with a torn curtain—or a chair in three pieces, as the case may be—it is the backstage crew’s job to figure out what to do about it in that moment, especially if the prop will be needed later in the performance. For me, this synthesis of careful coordination and quick improvisation is one of the things that makes being backstage for The 39 Steps both an intense and intensely rewarding and enjoyable experience.

The clock reads 6:01 as I enter the mainstage door. I make brief stops at the sign-in sheet and green room and then start on the pre-show checklist. This consists of making sure the right props are onstage for the top of the show and the correct footlight is in place and “where did those biscuits go?” and the battery for the lamp is plugged in and “really, what happened to the shortbread?” and all of the money is in the right pockets and “seriously, who would have taken something from the prop table?!?.” Phew!

Compere jacket #2, British police cape, sideburns on a headband, three stuffed sheep—this is the eclectic inventory of items I pile onto my arm before heading to stage left to do final checks on the coat hooks and prop tables. “Fifteen to places.” We look over the stage one last time. Everyone makes sure the lamp works, independently of one another. No wonder the battery goes so fast. “Ten to places.” Water bottles are filled. “Five to places.” Are the safety lights on? “Actors in places and….

Here we go!” During the performance, it stays as busy backstage as it was before the show. My notes to myself, verbatim, often look something like the following: “Assist change to milkman SR (stage right), then hightail it to SL (stage left) with trench coat and bring compere jacket #1, dropping off clown hat along the way. Make sure sunglasses are in right pocket. Prepare coat with cape, take milkman costume quietly from Tristan, and assist Katie’s change to salesman SL. Then get to dressing room pronto for Bristol’s change to Pamela.” Yes, indeed, there’s certainly plenty to do and the pedometer in my phone doesn’t rest often.

Collaboration is key; this is especially evident in the middle of the show. A play itself is a giant feat of collaboration and the backstage crew is a smaller collaboration within the larger. Sometimes one action will involve many members of the crew, such as the shadow screen plane scene in Act I. Other things fall into a natural sequence; after a while you begin to notice patterns, walking past the same person in the hallway carrying the same things after that one scene.

Once the intermission checklist has been completed (tea is poured, chairs are placed, rope on the banner is properly set, etc.), it’s time for Act II. “Actors in places!”  We sometimes refer to Act I as “the busy act” (it is, after all, the act where I run from “flying” a plane to trigger the fog machine and then immediately open the mid-traveler), but there are still many things to be done in the second half. Sheep must be herded positioned, flannel nightshirts must be wrestled with, and then there is what seems to and may be a matter of seconds to strike and reset the stage for the final scenes.

Curtains close, lights go up—it’s time to pre-set for the next show. This means lots of sweeping (if you’ve come to see The 39 Steps already, you’ll probably know why), tracking down errant opera glasses, or trying to attain some semblance of order in that one chaotic stash of costumes that always accrues on stage left. The post-show checklist is as important as the pre-show one, as this is the time where that one pair of sunglasses can be located before it has had time to disappear into the woodwork, seemingly of its own accord, and make you spend fifteen minutes looking for it the next day. That’s right sunglasses, you know who you are. After double-checking everything for a third time, we head out.

Kazoos, kilts, and knives—where else can you find such diversity of prop and costume? This medley is representative of the play itself, with a storyline that winds through territories from spellbinding thriller to screwball comedy to romance to a puddle on the dark Scottish moors. And now, when you catch one of the last three opportunities to attend this show (available at tickets.wicaonline.com or 360.221.8268!) and see all of the incredible onstage feats of acting, you can imagine the glorious frenzy occurring behind the scenes as well.