The Poetry Project

Monica McClure


We tried to go home with ourselves

But when we got there our labor stood

Magnificently tall in a blue robe of light flickering

She’s a long glassy tooth that we kiss

Goodnight, tomorrow I will fill up my cart

And push it with one hand and with the other

I will press loose units to my breast
I have come to the hot room to work

Washing paint from a screen and clacking boards

Not every person has worked do you know

If you’ve worked about the chicken fryer

Or been sentenced to work in debt to those

Entities which don’t work which have given to us debt
Everything flows from those who have nothing

For free in the cold room I had come

To work in steadfast devotion to a capability

Which would give me a voice in high places and

Something to look at under tables sat

With owners who will unlearn my daughter of work

In the restaurants and the strip clubs

and fields of unlicensed care
All riches flow from ideas that don’t work at home

Because we have nothing to give we give them our give

We are serving intellectual minnows who take

Our most common deeds and build from them concepts

We yielded our daydreams we branded

Grandma’s handwritten poem her unrecorded beauty

And the secret of cotton dead from too much watering
Most of the time we are ducks caught in rapids

We have chosen it over the still pond

Across the meadow we are admired for

our sputtering sacrifice when the clouds part

A voice says you deserve it

And we bob to accept the white water in our bills
Everything we have flows from those financials

Which illuminate nothing for I choose it this way

All day I gestate another era of co-signs

I gather no crops in my palms I nurse lost time

Those trees in the valley have learned to curtsy

To the wind Now where did they get this idea?
Blue fucking pastoral says the boss in my case

When the law has come to spill your song

Try to go home with yourself they’ll pry

Open your tweets the boss has no money nice try

I have to work with the banners a dirge with gloss

And the sales within them trembling with bonus

We tried to earn enough to go home

But the quarter was weak
Go down great losers of history for you are

Human resources so precious so vast are you

That we must bury you in the ground to extract

You later like the heroes you are fined to be

You see money’s in the valley and glory’s in the fees
When the boss speaks no one is the boss

One can only follow the work as it matures into rest

A life bobbing for air for her But the air

Oh, the air up there!
Remember to take the pill that makes you ill

Enough to perform at the top you’re an earner

As well as a mother you’re a midwife to industries

When you are home with yourself you enter

A new market you tap against your own glass you

Lie down in the shape of a kidney and stare
Who are you dithering in the open not

Trying to be rich or remembered don’t you

Know there are those who give us all one name

We walked up through miles of iron hills past

Towns of broken eggs with the doors ajar revealing

Today’s Walmart deals and entrepreneurs sitting

With their legs cut off below the knees they wave

A bruised medal an upturned tin we grow old

In a series of twitches drinking beer on the slab of a garage
One road led to the train trellis where the river

And the blind blood of teenagers made it sweet enough

For a while to have never seen a Grecian urn behind

layers of metaphor or marked a marble stair

With my heel I have tried to walk above myself

Only to end up romanticizing

The wrong side of the tracks

The money a clean flight home
I once saw the Prom King stabbed on a mossy rock

His blood ran in the current what could be more

Tragic than never having the chance to pick a career

Path or stock portfolio to run a check into a slot

With a glowing blue mouth that accepts it
On the island of Naoshima the James Turell made

A woman cry, “Help me! I can’t see” and simply it was death

We all felt it which is common and profound easy

To reckon but so much duller to face without light

I’ve decided to die eyes open after seeing some things that

Make me want to live forever like the hundreds

Of faces I saw pinched between gasping

Waterlilies issued from a man’s sharp loneliness
And if you’d never been with a redhead in Paris or

Lost by the Tiber or tongue kissed in Lisbon or at the bottom

Of a limestone quarry or facing the long scream of beauty

Of course it would seem the hometown river runs on

Forever low except when it’s too high and it’s possible

To drown by only a fingertip having seen no lucite stairs

Leading up to a temple of solvency and promissory
What we’re saying is I’m going to kick over the ladder

Once I get to the top and you’re going to knock

Your kids back a few rungs and she’s going to decline

This metaphor altogether in favor of keeping growth

In check while acknowledging her great privilege to do

So others can be paid to hold the base of the ladder

By giving up their turn to climb it
We trade merits for places inside grains of wood

The straining necks under waterlilies
Firmly my debts have taken me in the night on wild

Parachute glides they come as fierce sprites to my bed

Carrying me across the economic landscape

Pointing to the private sector in seductive terms holding me

Like a lender who can bury you or marry you

But instead holds your breath in her mouth forever
Back to what I was saying we’re going to build our own

And if that doesn’t work we will take someone else’s ladder

At the stake they’ll burn all the ladders up to Valhalla if we keep on

Upon my honor mercy will prevail for the unladdered

Says the laddered as she curls the rung in her arch
We tried to go home but the way was lost

I am trying to make a baby a home

I am trying to make a home in a baby

I am the only blight of my life

I’m trying won’t you to yield fruit once again I am

What I am so I repeat our prayer that we will

All go back to earth before we are returned to earth wrong

Fallen off ladders like rusted weathervanes after taxes

Poor machinery pointing the others nowhere
We tried to take nothing home with us except for

All the threads we thought to re-braid

From when we tied our gait from here to there

Expecting an eventual croon take nothing home

Except your defiant laziness your angry exhaustion

Tomorrow I will pull a new hum

While holding a payment in my breath
This would be a hymn

It would be stiff lingerie opened in an SUV

It would be a collection on unpaid overtime

It would buy polo shirts at the mall

It would steal lettuce from quiet aisles

And soothe the stubs of unlovable feelings

We have pressed inside us a handful of truths

Such as time is an accumulation of tense surrenders

You resisted but couldn’t prevent

And the sex of money is a blue ice too hard to melt

She shakes her head “no” while mouthing “yes”
I tried to perform work instead of working and it worked

Much better under the newest circumstances

And with this diploma I ate and drank and paid for it

With the parts of my body that meant nothing to me

This problem you will come to recognize as another’s

Arrived with me and will go with you too

Because it costs way more to let it sink

Issue 17