Poetry: Selections from Matthew McGuirk

Like Coals in a Wood Stove

It’s really like cutting and stacking wood,
putting in the time and making sure you know what to expect
and being ready for it.
You don’t want to be left short when a cold snap in February happens
or leave the wood a little green,
cake on the creosote and light the chimney on fire.
I guess in a way, it’s like burning wood:
everything is hot when you’re paying attention to it,
stoking the fire and adding more logs,
but when you leave it for a while it dies down to coals
and there’s still something there, it’s still hot but not the way it was before
and if you forget about it or sleep on it
you’re down to ash.
When it’s all ash, you know something was there but
it isn’t the same anymore,
it’s not going to rekindle without some effort
and some new logs in the fire.
Really though, it might be more like cleaning the chimney at times.
You know you have to do it
and if you don’t something bad is going to happen;
you wouldn’t want it all to burn to the ground,
would you?

The Cost of Living
There’s only so much time
before calcium fortified bones wither,
a paper hole punched again and again
until there’s nothing left.
How much money is your time worth?
How many smiles shy away
as you’re penciling in overtime
or finishing that thought with the boss?
The disconnect between cost of living and living,
surviving and getting by.
Four people in a cramped apartment
with a little extra cash to throw at beaches or brunch.
How about a house on a hill or in the country?
This means a tighter hold on the checkbook,
white knuckles near the end of the month.
Whispers always wondering,
“what about Disney World?”

Matthew McGuirk teaches and lives with his wife and two daughters in New Hampshire. He was a BOTN 2021 nominee and has poems and stories published in various literary magazines. His debut hybrid collection of poems and stories, Daydreams, Obsessions, Realities, came out with Alien Buddha Press in late November of 2021 and is available on Amazon.