the poetry that matters

Amy MacLennan

Amy MacLennan lives and writes in Ashland, Oregon. She has been published in Hayden's Ferry Review, River Styx, Linebreak, Cimarron Review, Painted Bride Quarterly, Folio, and Rattle. Her chapbook, The Fragile Day, was released from Spire Press in the summer of 2011, and her chapbook, Weathering, was published by Uttered Chaos Press in early 2012. She has a poem appearing in the anthology Myrrh, Mothwing, Smoke: Erotic Poems that was published by Tupelo Press in March 2013. She is the managing editor at The Cortland Review.


An Exaggerated Startle Reflex

The shoulder tap, twisting knob
beneath my hand, newspaper
slammed to the door, blue jay striking
a front room window, café plate
drop, light bulb blast, sagging log break,
the motorcycle through the red,
radio emergency test, two doctors, letters
returned to sender, telephone ringing
nine times, the unslept bed.

Whiskey Dents and Bruises
Tiny dings. Places
taking minor blows.
Scrapes on paint,
sunsets of plum on flesh,
a way to take the brunt
in a soft life. Read them
like Braille, Morse code
these marks, these scars —
fading, rubbed out, fine.
Like staring at the sun,
shadows still hanging
with closed, quiet eyes.

Projections of Shapes
Clouded skies, cappuccino foam,
a path embedded with cut stone.
Shapes there, stories in the making.
A tomcat’s head, burned-out tree, frying pan.
And in my own fingernails
I see images. How the ridges running
from cuticles become filaments of feathers.
Or the way smoky flaws sitting at the tips
wax into fog haze on a winter lake.
Some nails almost flat, some arch
to full curves, my middle right
folds on one side like a labrador’s ear.
Apart they are carved bits of bone,
one spot worn to shine,
a worry rasp against fingertips.
Combined, sea shells,
broken shards on bleached driftwood.
And with time I watch the ‘scapes change—
milk spots spill from each moon
to sweep pink to white
across the quick. Small stars move
through my desolate sky.


The Map
Shows up in my dreams from time
to time. Always the same. Eighteen bridges,
            forty-three freeways. A city surrounded
            by water, inbound roads elevated,
irregular as veins. Numbered streets run north-south,
and east-west: avenues with names of insects
            and countries, Crayola colors and teas.
            Each neighborhood with a small lake,
all football shaped, blue eyes scattered,
unblinking. I never fold this map,
            although it is creased and ready,
            in the dreams it stays open as I sit in my car,
parked at the curb, tracing the routes,
everything exposed. Heart in my lap.
(First published in Connotation Press: An Online Artifact, May 2010)



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                                                                                                                August 22, 2013