Mary McGinnis


Listen to the audio versions of the poems read by Sylvia Bowersox.

Mothers in stores don't want their
young-uns flailing and feeling especially glassware as it
tinkles to the floor and makes a sound
everybody recognizes as breaking;
my limber, soft
pink hands just want to know what's
Even as you try to stop me, I
dare to pick up and flip and move whatever it is from

hand to hand.
And I am happy and curious,
not frightened, knowing, not
denying I was born to flail and feel and not always behave.

* * *


I like rooms where the big spirit in skin
takes it easy, relaxes, and is rarely paranoid,
where belief and paranoia only sometimes
bobble back and forth,
where the membrane between window and rain
opens like a tidy zero:
its geometry without
has a thinner aura
you never have to pay attention to it,
it being a morsel too small to keep or eat.

Some friends want spirit in skin for free,
others wonder if betrayal is on the gas stove.
Here quiet moves in like a big cloth
and we settle like clouds around the library.

* * *


(For J. B.)

Suddenly, on our way to your ranch, Jack,
under a blistering sun –
we don't call first – driving
all the way out past Clayton to see you
herding cattle on your new purple scooter.

Neither of us liked noise – the land was everything to us, you a rancher near the Texas border,

me, a city gal who loved the fresh air.
You, willful, proud and patriotic,
(maybe you're dead by now)
didn't let post-polio stop you.
We both tried to find jobs for kids who had never worked.

This brown ground has been
executed by hands of dust -
we brought some accessibility to Raton,
but there was some rural outreach we couldn't do,
stalled on somber open plains

*Previously published in Lummox No. 6


Mary McGinnis has been writing and living in New Mexico since 1972 where life has connected her with emptiness, desert, and mountains. Published in over 70 magazines and anthologies, she has also been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She has published three full length collections: Listening for Cactus, October Again, and See with Your Whole Body. A recent submission to a Lummox poetry contest (2017) won first prize, publication of a chapbook, Breath of Willow.