Tuesday, August 14, 2007


from Poetry magazine

One Afternoon
by Joanie V. Mackowski

A woman stepped outside, crumbled
into a loose particulate, and, as the breeze
blew up from the east, she scattered: her handful
of heart, volcanic ash, spiraled the highway,
and five of her teeth slipped between
her neighbor's breasts; her neighbor
unbuttoned her blouse to scratch
at her suddenly red and luminous skin.
Days passed. Each day the sun distractedly
drifted from chair to chair; each night the stars,
old scatterbrains, they commiserated.
It didn't rain. Strange, the granular woman
thought to herself: although I encompass
so much, I accomplish so little.

Her car sparkled with her hair and bones;
her garden thrived. She tried to think:
why did this happen? what had I eaten?
why was I bothered?
—those old hours,
spotted and exotic lizards, darted
the gravel, flicking through their colors
of skin as one flicks channels on a tv.
She couldn't catch a one. Then, as a flock
of sparrows converging for the skull
of an oak, all her twittering dust,
her brain, bone, and the dangerous shreds
of her fingers clawed for the sky;
what an interesting cloud someone said.

At first I'd included the Q&A, but ultimately decided the blah blah about Ovid and the supposed inspired madness of all poets undermined the grace of the poem and its movement. So here it is, naked. Go back and reread! Aloud.