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.

Mercedes Lawry

Charity Blinks


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. 

Before Winter


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.