Mercedes Lawry has published poetry in such journals as Poetry, Nimrod, Prairie Schooner, and Harpur Palate. Thrice-nominated for a Pushcart Prize, she’s published three chapbooks, the most recent, “In the Early Garden With Reason,” was selected by Molly Peacock for the 2018 WaterSedge Poetry Chapbook Contest. Her manuscript “Small Measures” was selected for the Vachel Lindsay Poetry Prize from Twelve Winters Press and will be published soon. She was a finalist for the 2017 Airlie Press Prize and the 2017 Wheelbarrow Press Book Prize. She’s also published short fiction, essays as well as stories and poems for children. She lives in Seattle.
Take care of nobody
down the street, wet
in the January chill.
Look away, don’t puncture
your sangfroid or sour it
with worry, keep straight
eyes on the blue
hallelujah sky as
you have the luck
to sashay left
or right, no thought
for the dry alcove
in that corner building.
Sleep tight, ignore
that fuss and misery,
you owe nothing to
those tarp men, that
shopping cart girl, this one,
that one, all over
the damn city now,
look clean away.
Truth Off the Rails
This is a game where the birds eschew wind
and the up and down becomes a psalm
and then an alibi.
This is a sweet and tidy wrap-it-up ending
to a story once off the rails but tamed
somehow by a grinning cartoonist with one eye.
This is a pear given as a gift with no strings
attached while the brother of that pear lies rotting
on the ground, bitter, oh, so bitter.
This is a paragraph used as a cooking ingredient
used to seduce a thoughtless man who felt
abbreviations might be the key to world peace.
This is a piece of old, dried chewing gum
that even the microbes have abandoned, not as old
as the wrinkles suggest and willing to become symbolic.
This is the patter of rain mocking the slow erosion
of bones which themselves make a clicking sound
as they lose their purpose and their smooth beauty.
I try to tell the reckless dogs they are loved, that I will not abandon them.
September wind sifts through firs as the yellowed garden begins to droop. Blue
sky before an argument of weather strews dribs, earth shuddering. The pile of
plum mush, feast for insects, a jellied mass transforming till only the hard dark
pits spatter the grass. Dogs pay no mind.