Mercedes Lawry


What is the cost of the unhinged howls
of those without hope, the sodden allegory
laid plain on the kitchen table, nothing gussied up
or named with a false rhyme.
Bleak hearts brim with greed
like a scatter of red ants at a massacre.
This curious geography does not align with stars.
Mourning is no disease, no placebo.
That time would crack was a given.
Only the widows are left to feed the dogs
who’ve lost their shiny coats along with their domesticity.
Schoolchildren make lists and discard them,
running past abandoned shelters still redolent
with smoke and ghosts.
There is no replica for life, only this:
what we swallow and breathe.


Ah, here he comes again, the unwanted guest,
dragging his history in a shabby, great sack,
the stink, glint of metal, the spatter of bones
and so much missing in smoke.
The names of the warriors are etched on his back,
the dead and those diminished.
He’ll want tea and a long chat about strategies
and the dark spaces in the human heart.
He’ll want me to trace his scars and whisper
a string of words: bravery, oblivion, insane.
He’ll want to tell me about clever bombs.
By first light he’ll be gone and I’ll be feverish,
vomiting, macerated, and it will take me
days to recover.

Mercedes Lawry has published poetry in such journals as Poetry, Saint Ann’s Review, Nimrod, Poetry East, Salamander, and others. She’s been a Jack Straw Writer, held a residency at Hedgebrook and is a Pushcart Prize nominee. Her chapbook, “There are Crows in My Blood”, was published by Pudding House Press in 2007 and another chapbook, “Happy Darkness,” was released by Finishing Line Press in 2011. She lives in Seattle.