I block out conversations,
the price of houses, the bad
history steeped in those
patent leather shoes, frilly white socks.
Skimming your surface
all the forest listens
as if their lives depended
on those rough exteriors.
Those insects are your best friends now,
stretching and bending in the steady breeze
along with the moon, hung out to dry
in a starless sky.
Dripping with lost hopes
a pitched battle ensues.
The secrets of slaves,
the blood of our country,
the acrid smell of spent fireworks.
*This poem is a cento, composed of lines chosen from other poems. The poems from which these lines were selected were written during a Writer’s Center class in June, 2020, by John Heath, Pat Kabra, Carol Moore, Tara Davoodi, and Kathryn Temple.
At the top of Sugarloaf Mountain
now with with my father, 84,
every step on the uneven trail a worry after he tells me
sometimes his legs give way and he lands
on his face, our view is impeded
by two other hikers in whom
the hormones of youth buzz,
only for once it’s she doing
all the telling, about her business
in bit coin and how her partner
just died — he was 70 — so now
there’s a lot more work for her
and she’s moving to Stuttgart
next Sunday where her boyfriend
has a job and the man she’s talking
with is silent but I have a lot
of questions but it’s not my conversation
and going down will be
a lot harder than going up.
© Ann Quinn
Ann Quinn is a poet and essayist, editor, teacher, mentor, mother, and classical clarinetist. Her award-winning work has been published in Poet Lore, Potomac Review, Little Patuxent Review, Broadkill Review, The Ekphrastic Review, Haibun Today, and Snapdragon, and is included in the anthology Red Sky: Poetry on the Global Epidemic of Violence Against Women. Her chapbook, Final Deployment, is published by Finishing Line Press. She teaches at the Writer’s Center in Bethesda and is the poetry editor for Yellow Arrow Journal. Ann holds an M.F.A. in poetry from Pacific Lutheran University and lives in Catonsville, Maryland with her family. Visit her at www.annquinn.net