Poetry: Selections from Carla McGill

Granny’s House

By the time the heat is strong,
six-pack cartons throughout the shed
cars parked along the U-shaped gravel road
Grandpa’s overalls full of pipe smoke;
the ominous laughter.
Four miles south, Mr. Brown
has two hundred chickens, a dozen
hogs, the palomino mare
always eating carrots,
rabbits in elongated tin sheds.
All before the steel mill
arose to pull men from ranches
grapefruit orchards
and in the north of town
some promising vineyards.
Crows, steady as railroad ties,
calling through coarse and golden fields;
and the great mountain, giant
of memory and presence is splashed,
streaked with daylight.
In the next decade, bruised slopes
ache in the purple aftermath
TV lights appear in the window
from the house where Granny
irons pillowcases, drinks cold milk.


Morning mist above the tracks
eucalyptus trees lined up
silent in recoil and shiver
Granny’s coffee pours,
the dog sleeps in suspicion
on uneven porch stones
Crows know these plaintive pepper
trees on the other side, clapboard
house, hoses tightly wound
Substance of waiting
stirring of pathetic leaves
as autumn weighs down
Now men of the house
have arisen, search for answers
in silence like the rest of us

Trees, Mars 

Trail leading to that little market;
two ambulatory girls,
candy wrappers, and back home
tomato soup, grilled cheese lunch
outside by oleanders, primitive enclave.
Scrub oaks near that shirt factory
reaching out to sky above palm tree heights
to places on Mars not yet named;
for example, Yellow Knife Bay.
Somehow our joys were out there.
We didn’t speak of fathers,
but of cleaning the planters
at her aunt’s apartment, washing
white stones, susurration
in the eucalyptus windbreak.

Winds and the Blood Moon

Granny said it was the blood moon
coming on, so we wait, Pal
in his young dog years.
Sort through the glove
compartment of the blue
Ford Fairlane: whiskey bottle,
no cap, on its side, another
on the passenger side floor.
Train blares through, and we find
a bloodied hankie in the back seat,
a Kaiser Steel shirt, Pal sniffs two bags
of chicken feed. Windows down,
and winds starting up; we feel
them before they arrive
like ghosts, like knife thrusts.
No moon yet, sunlight fading.
Nonetheless, we wander
down the tracks, count railroad
ties, and then up to the windbreak,
his golden fur warm in the October
chill as I lean against peeling bark.
We scrutinize rocks, survey fields, waiting
for that moon, which never appears
though the vicious winds push us home.

Winds Through the Pass

Winds through the pass
highlight aimless,
point to nothing,
disperse dirt to re-land
and pebbles wait it out
in the distance from
car dealerships, diners
crows on the roof.
It is twelve years
from the terrible sickness
that took him, my father,
whose soul I knew
in those sea days
when blue was full
to the west.
Each hospital drive
fierce, while out here now,
these winds through the pass
have no real destination;
strong presence for a time
then the vanishing.

Carla McGill’s work has been published in The Atlanta Review, Brief Wilderness, Bryant Literary Review, Shark Reef, Crack the Spine, Westview, Common Ground Review, Caveat Lector, Cumberland River Review, Euphony Journal, The Hungry Chimera, Carbon Culture Review, Press, Neologism Poetry Journal, DASH Literary Journal, Pioneertown, Schuylkill Valley Journal of the Arts, Sheila-Na-Gig, Streetlight Magazine, The Summerset Review, The Penmen Review, Cloudbank, Paragon Journal, Burningword, Whistling Shade, The Alembic, California Quarterly, Waxing & Waning,Broad River Review, and others. Her story, “Thirteen Memories,” received an Honorable Mention in Glimmer Train’s MAR/APR 2016 Very Short Fiction Contest. She writes poetry and fiction.


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