January 2014

MICHAEL MACK: Poet, playwright, and performer, Michael Mack graduated from the Writing Program at MIT. His poems have been published in America, the Journal of the American Medical Association, the Beloit Poetry Journal, and Best Catholic Writing, and have aired on NPR. Awards include First Prize in the Writers Circle National Poetry Competition and two Artist Fellowships (2005 and 2013) from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, the state's most prestigious and competitive individual artist grant. To view more of his poetry and to follow his public events, go to www.michaelmacklive.com.


Becoming Annie

who wakes in a wrinkled cotton nightie.
She watches a luminous hand
touch her ticking wrist.

Becoming Annie, who groans and walks

to a medicine chest, rummages for her rosary,
finds a Band-Aid box of buttons and dimes,
one gown propped in the closet.

Are we becoming Annie?

Trailing water, she bends for the stairs
and squeaks down the banister,
dropping lilies of tissue paper.

Barely aware we could be Annie

we cannot remember what to forget,
pray to ourselves in baby voices,
lose names, faces, keys,

till one night we see Annie

sailing out our doorway,
gown lisping over the porch
sidelong to the street.

May a city rise in the gleam of our breathing.
May love brush its sudden
feathers on our bodies,

our running feet.

Poppy Field Painting by Carla Belniak.
    Our Lady of Sorrows

Why my mother chopped off her hair
and followed me to the school bus stop
that morning in second grade,
I don't know. Or why

she bent down sobbing
Don't let go of my hand.
How long did we stand by the 7-11?
Other kids hushed, watching.

When the bus clunked to a stop
I climbed on first, grabbed a seat in back,
Mama outside, hands curled
on my window, her face a blur

as the bus jerked away.
The kid beside me punched my arm.
Who was that man with you
crying so hard?

I said I didn't know.

Three times I swore I don't know him.


Mama's Stigmata

I touched them once
during visiting hours

the tops of her feet
weeping in gentle gauze

the sore at her side
a thorned heart under damp pajamas

and her palms
burnt cherries in each

blisters lit like God's
red eyes

oozing like cigarette tips