Featured Poet

Karyna McGlynn

( Ann Arbor, Michigan )

poem and audio link



There’s the thin yellow door to Shoalwood.
There’s a pill-bottomed girl on the stoop. 
There’s a june-bug, wet  & uncupping her wings.
	But where is your mother?
You cannot remember, you mindless juice mongrel,
how you called and she came
	and you called and she came,
and you learned to sing yourself awake,
and the house opening up, unbuttoning
each humid breast in turn.
		Oh, it was me!
I sang that house alive, 
learned to unleash love’s wet mouth.
I was that baby tucked up in the rafters,
long gown made of milk which dripped and caught
hems on the plateless light-switch,
child born of inflexible guilt, appetite
	heaving its dark sump across the planks.
		Oh, it was me! 
The girl who never learned to say “four”
without unraveling her swampy tongue,
her first room shining forth like a woody fist,
moonlight scuttling across the floor to flatten
each raisin-backed tree roach glistening.
		Oh, it was me! 
A bean for a penny, a song for a bean—
Whose forehead cropped bright mushrooms in the night,
whose tongue and ears drew in to hide the hoard,
whose knees were tender as cooking onions,
who, mindless, filled anything hollow:
	a suitcase,
		a stomach,
			a bed.


McGlynn’s Comments...

"Shoalwood" is part of a series of poems which deal with guilt and fear in early childhood. It’s a rich topic for me. I think that, on the whole, childhood is a less innocent and much more complex time than people want to believe. But the memory is often unreliable. We often confuse pictures and stories of our childhood with real memories. We tend to either idealize or demonize our childhoods as we get older. The distortion inherent in examining my very earliest years is endlessly fascinating to me, but in writing these poems, I’ve tried to get at the essence of those years, albeit in a necessarily elliptical manner, without being confessional or sentimental. I was very pleased with this set and intend to explore the theme further in the coming year. You can read two of the other poems in the series, “Dixon Hanging” and “Early Childhood” in the fall 2005 issue Cranky Literary Journal and the spring 2006 issue of Hotel Amerika respectively.

Next - Barbara Hendryson


Current Issue - Winter 2006