Posted by: Rachel Mallino | May 10, 2009

Dysfunctional Batch #6 – Amy MacLennan

About the (dys)functional poet:
Amy MacLennan has been published or has work forthcoming in Hayden’s Ferry Review, River Styx, Pearl, Linebreak, Cimarron Review, Folio, and Rattle. Her poems are forthcoming in the anthologies Not a Muse from Haven Books and Eating Her Wedding Dress: A Collection of Clothing Poems from Ragged Sky Press.


What the Heart Dictates

I never thought about it, not
in a physical way.
I’m young, my health sound.
This heart slogged on,
and I only made mention
(in the breaking sense)
after my father’s final stroke
or when a good love left.
Now I pay attention-
my heart murmurs.
A sexy name for a leak.
One doctor said she heard
a ssshhh. The other,
a snapping second beat.
Call it prolapse, call it
floppy valve. I think of it
as a whisper,
a stream of secrets
hissing in my breast.
Listen.  Listen.

Breaking the Shredder
With thanks to Morgan Harlow

But it’s just paper, single sheets,
I swear I clipped each staple,
fed in, sucked down through metal teeth,
ticker tape parade dancing in a can,
bank statements, canceled checks,
first time I’ve purged my files,
motor churning little blizzards out,
tax returns twelve years old,
thirty months of Discover bills,
and it feels right making confetti
of the hording years, and a squeak sets in,
so go the quarterlies from my 401(k),
the air smells burnt, like carbon paper flamed,
two, five, eight bags filled
with fluffed remains, emptying files,
it’s a whine now and I send in
oil change receipts, utility bills, unmade recipes,
another drawer clean,
last week’s to do list, PPO doctors,
the car insurance claim, page after page
swirling down to the sound
of a shredder giving in, the slowing,
the stop. Half a sheet sticking out
from the top. Inside an army
of white tongues wave.

Blackout, Nine P.M.

The power, out for six hours now,
seems like it will never come back.
With the fridge gone dumb,
the TV black for so long, this hush
has permanence. When I go down
for candles, a garage rat
skitters through wood
and the sound carries hard.

Maybe a car hit a pole
or a transformer flared out.
No freak storm took down
the lines, these skies are clear.
If I look to the street,
flashlights strobe across sidewalks.
To the west, tail lights twist up blank hills.
All the lights will be home soon.
I think there should be more stars.



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