22 February 2015

Stones, Crying



the very stones of the walls cry out
against coercive confinement (what
horrors have they seen, that they weep
so, even in summer, dew-heavy) bracing
within their grasp the dying rooms,
the thickwaxed floors

Joseph Ward
Mary Kate Fahey
Joseph Madden
Annie O’Connor

who will give you a voice and spell
out the letters of your story, one by one,
the drops of blood red pearls strung, one
after another, the recurring hurts, generation
upon generation, the black shame of it?

Michael Ryan
Christina Quinn
Patrick O’Malley
Eileen Fallon

too many names to say, and, yet, all of
importance, their frail bodies damned and doomed by
triple devils of fear, misogyny, and superstition,
abomination of abominations, washing and
washing the laundry of others, the theft of their children

John Joseph Murphy
Angela Daly
Paul Joyce
Margaret Scanlon

know that you are not forgotten.




30 October 2014

Blood Pudding




fat crackles as the tea
steeps and she tells stories
of catching the blood from
a stuck pig for
puddings, the stream of it
making a sort of music
against the side of the
pail, until she dropped it

as we butter bread fine-sliced by
machines and place shrink-wrapped
rashers gingerly on the pan, they
sing to us in a different
language, our stories similar
but dissimilar, the trading of
open fields for closed
classrooms, the curlew’s cry
for the strut of city pigeons







*published in Florida English 14 

Shamrocks




the writing, blue on white, was
a spidery lace, the delicate clump of
shamrocks fallen to the
parquet floor, the red-white-
blue-red-white-blue of the
envelope bearing foreign stamps
echoing the gold tasseled
flag we daily pledged to as
astronauts soared through black voids and
we drank Tang

in a cavern of bricks, blond,
red, thick-mortared, stone upon
stone, strung together by washlines,
narrow, sickly hedges
leaned up against some, catching
the last of the afternoon sun,
shadows lengthening upon the sidewalk
before all was dark again,
grinding of wheel-noise on the elevated tracks ever more
pronounced, now, under the
blinking of stars shining
on other shores



*published in Florida English 14 


17 July 2014

Sunday Morning, Sunday Afternoon

Saturday night dissolves into
Sunday morning, the music
and talk died away now, slipping
on blackened shoes, securing the goldbead
clasp of a handbag with a
snap, hem straightened, and, powdered and
lipsticked, off to Mass

later, picking up soft rolls and the
bulk of a Sunday paper, inky fingers pressed
Silly-Putty upon the funnies,
turning it to see the image
you have created, this
duplicate of a duplicate, another
and another

later still, listening for the
jingle-music of change in a pocket
foreshadowing thick curds of
ice cream in a crisp cone, the
paths cut into the grass of the
park strips of brown earth
worn bare, naked as
open wounds

Christmas Cards Tell the Weather

Christmas cards tell the weather
report, the deaths and
illnesses,

borne by red robins wreathed in
a gleaming sparkle of snow, gritty to
the fingertips, caught by the light, the handwriting
fainter and fainter until it is
no more

still others enclose photos
of grave-faced children, familiar
yet unfamiliar, mouths silent,
name and number on their
reverse

as we stir the batter for
the Christmas cake we make
wishes, always wishes, how
wonderful the things the mind
can conceive.

the foreign taste of dates a
meaty sweetness, the
custard, hot, poured over
pudding and Christmas
yet to come

the bulbs burning on
the tree are hot to the touch,
the tinsel a magic of silver



Dresser

two blue birds, their meeting
forever forestalled under the
china glaze, repeated, endlessly,
over teapot, dinner plates, side-
plates, teacups, and saucers

so smooth to her fingers, laundry-
chapped, as she sees the story
of lost love repeated, repeated,
repeated in blue and white,
upon the shelf, the shelf, the shelf

of blond wood that she stares at,
puzzling at some small imperfection
she cannot correct, the motes of
dust in a ray of sunlight mocking
her and still the dinner to be done,
be done, be done


12 July 2014

McCarra/Poetry on YouTube


Red Birds

two red birds settled upon
a bush, bare yet, of leaves,
one greyblack insect, manylegged,
scuttles across the stoop

one heart and stomach
provoked and
unsettled, protected by
a cage of bone and
gristle, quietly resistant to
any cutting tongues or
thick stupidities

dust, settling, upon a baseboard,
wiped off by a gloved hand,
the debris of past days settled,
brownboxed, overspilling

the quiet that settles
after chaos and strife (better
than the blankness of an April morning unfurling),
comfort of settling into
an attitude of rest,
curved into the quilts
finally
settled


Last Straw Spun to Gold

the last straw she spun to
gold before falling into a swoon,
finger pricked upon the spindle,

glaring step-sisters pleased at such
a coma, leaving the field clear,
for them, so to speak

to have at all the eligible
princes carrying their coffers of
gold, cutting through thorniest underbrush,

vanquishing dragons, answering riddles, and carrying
out all manner of princely duties
while their old fathers, the Kings,

balanced their budgets on the
back of their peasants, making them stretch
their black bread a little longer, as

Hansel and Gretel were
turned out into the forest and
our spinning Princess sleeps in quietude,

immured from the carping harpies
who would steal her children from her


At Water's Edge

at water's edge
tarblack rocks
shelter small pools where
tiniest of fish dart, safe
for the moment, secure,
locked in constant
movement,
rippling causing circles
that intersect, then
break, repetitive as breath

(greyshelled, a collection of blood, sinew
flesh, bone, all bound
together by twining filaments clinging to
an opalescent interior, smooth, curving,
rainbow-threaded, mother of pearl
sleekness within, without an exterior dark grey, ribbed, striated,
edges sharp enough to gouge the fingertips, bony teeth
tasting blood mixed with
salt water)

until the tide rushes in, noisy,
untrammeled, unmannered, pounding over
this threshold of sand and rock,
thick with green ribbons of kelp,
briny, stunted flowers, washing over, salt-green,
the salt-green sea,
over stinking carcasses of horseshoe
crabs, to wrest the fishes from
their pools, sending them
to certain death