Current Features

Featured Reader

Kathleen McClung
 

Virtual Event on August 10th, 2021–6:00 P.M to 8:00 P.M.

Live stream available on our YouTube Channel!

Kathleen McClung

Kathleen McClung is the author of four poetry collections: A Juror Must Fold in on Herself, winner of the 2020 Rattle Chapbook Prize, Temporary Kin, The Typists Play Monopoly and Almost the Rowboat. Winner of the Morton Marr, Maria W. Faust, and Rita Dove national poetry prizes, her work appears in a variety of journals and anthologies. In 2021 she serves as guest editor for The MacGuffin, a print literary journal based in Michigan. She is associate director of the Soul-Making Keats literary competition and judges the contest’s sonnet category. In 2018-2019 she was a writer-in-residence at Friends of the San Francisco Public Library. Kathleen teaches literature and writing classes at Skyline College in San Bruno and directed the Women on Writing conference there for ten years. Visit her website at www.kathleenmcclung.com 

The Year We Memorize Planets

I watch the sisters climb three steps and go
inside Rosellen’s house. When they see me
they beam and wave. I wonder what they know

about the girl who studies them. Dad murmurs, “Low
IQ.” We rake more brittle leaves. “Be neighborly.
Don’t stare.” The sisters climb three steps. They go

to special ed, east Sacramento.
A small bus honks and idles every day, empty.
They beam and wave. I wonder what they know

about tonsils, Neptune, or polio,
quicksand or mushroom clouds, infinity.
I watch the sisters climb three steps. Perhaps they go

into a pink bedroom like mine, lift a window
and listen to the rain, to sirens, black phoebes.
The sisters beam and wave. I wonder what they know

and what they say at night when sleep is slow
to come, when branch on glass clinks mystery.
I watch Rosellen’s daughters climb three steps and go.
They beam and wave. I wonder what they know.

The Sequestered Juror Writes a Pantoum

It’s no mystery where straight As come from.
You need a knack for following instructions.
“Sit up. Pay attention. Listen and learn,” your mother always said.
The judge said: no talking, no research whatsoever about the trial.

You need a knack for following instructions
and watch documentaries about the solar system, but no news.
The judge said: no talking, no research whatsoever about the trial,
only one juror at a time in the hotel pool,

and watch documentaries about the solar system, but no news.
The mini-bar is off-limits. In fact, for you it’s a lunar landscape.
Only one juror at a time in the hotel pool
and forget about those computers in the Business Center.

The mini-bar is off-limits. In fact, for you it’s a lunar landscape.
Verdicts don’t follow vodka. Vice versa, though, is common
and forget about those computers in the Business Center.
No Googling that lanky prosecutor who doesn’t wear a ring.

Verdicts don’t follow vodka. Vice versa, though, is common.
Anything goes once this godforsaken trial ends next month.
No Googling that lanky prosecutor who doesn’t wear a ring—
until later. But even then, that could open a can of worms.

Anything goes once this godforsaken trial ends next month.
For now a juror must fold in on herself
until later. But even then, that could open a can of worms.
In lieu of sleep or prayer or trance, there is, of course, poetry.

For now a juror must fold in on herself.
It’s no mystery where straight As come from.
In lieu of sleep or prayer or trance, there is, of course, poetry.