Wednesday 3 January 2018

Pattie McCarthy

Pattie McCarthy is the author of six books of poetry: Quiet Book, Marybones, Table Alphabetical of Hard Words, Verso, and bk of (h)rs from Apogee Press, and nulls from Horse Less Press. She is also the author of a dozen chapbooks, most recently margerykempething and qweyne wifthing from eth press. A former Pew Fellow in the Arts, McCarthy teaches literature and creative writing at Temple University in Philadelphia.

Here are four of her sonnets from a longer sequence. 


this year aged me twenty it's stupid

to say but it's true           it's them pills I took
&c      whatever     at forty-
five lady mary carey wrote her
meditation it's as good a time as any
I think you should know I walk the long way
home      circumambulate the seminary
when I was a kid my friends would sled there
hold on tight         but I said I don't jump
fences to get closer to priests
there are different categories of loss
don't confuse my sadness for guilt or regret
I count counted backwards to it     I hope
you like how I'm wearing my effort now


mercy      a midden or a crown       mercy
the witches come in silks with manbuns
reckless with optimism we go on
my father's body is probably gone
in truth I rarely think of it that way
good wyvern       my daughterthing says      she said
this year is twenty years maybe next time
I get to be the one who falls apart
depictions of the body as bloodless
weightless      anemic   plastic      couldn't be
more distant from me I don't know how to
read them      I cannot helpe peoples talking
of me       of course I'm wrong about his body
but I'm horrorstruck thinking about it


mercy only      goodwyfs from the other
side of town are witches that's obvious
in my tongue of wool & flax is the law
in my autumnal teaching costume I
exercise the etymology of
gossamer for fifty minutes
once there was a daughterthing she watched
her cobwebs    mercy  a midden or crown
her back to the hill her face to the sea
& which is still to be seen to this day
note     she is impassable at high tide
unexpected catalogue      archive of
the flood     a large accumulation of small
things chalky softwhite left on my fingers


mercy you have to relearn hunger you
have to learn to be hungry for days so
hungry that lights go out as you pass so
hungry steps disappear just do the work
unnatural november weather
easing up for year-end erasure
mercy     only goodwyfs from the impassable
tide the other side         archive of the flood
these days need crows & so they come we put
glittering things out to draw them near     not
near enough        when my son can't sleep we day
dream the dazzle of sunlight on water
different bodies all the time       it's the dazzle
that soothes him       he stores fragments for later

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