Friday, October 1, 2021

Selected Works, Joan McNerney

"A" train

brassy blue

close eyes
watch points
like stars

think now
how insignificant
compared to train
speaking for itself

stars known
in no language
burn shoot
tiger's eyes

brain in
constant action

to what we do not know
plans of distant stars
galaxies floating as

"A" train
silver worm
slides under
big belly 
of city


Sneaks under shadows lurking
in corners ready to rear its head
folded in neat lab reports charting
white blood cells over edge running wild.

Or hiding along icy roads when
day ends with sea gulls squalling
through steel grey skies.

Brake belts wheeze and whine
snapping apart careening us
against the long cold night.

Official white envelopes stuffed with
subpoenas wait at the mailbox.
Memories of hot words burning
razor blades slash across our faces.

Fires leap from rooms where twisted
wires dance like miniature skeletons.
We stand apart inhaling this mean
air choking on our own breath.

Eleventh Hour

Wrapped in darkness we can
no longer deceive ourselves.  
Our smiling mask floats away.
Snakes here, there 
from one side to another.  
How many times do we rip off  
blankets only to claw more on?

Listening to zzzzzz of traffic,
mumble of freight trains, fog horns. 
Listening to wheezing,
feeling muscles throb.
How can we find comfort?

Say same word over and over 
again again falling falling to sleep.
I will stop measuring what was lost.
I will become brave.

Let slumber come covering me. 
Let my mouth droop, fingers tingle.
Wishing something cool…soft…sweet. 
Now I will curl like a fetus 
gathering into myself
hoping to awake new born.

How Trouble Grows

Trouble is patient 
hiding around corners.
creeping through shadows 
entering without a sound.

It starts as a seed blown
by careless winds and
covers your garden with
foul  brackish weeds.

Or sparks from a match
spread over fertile ground 
becoming flames speeding
through the long night.

Trouble knows where you live.
You cannot hide from it.
Gaining a foothold, growing
fat feeding on your flesh.

Watch how trouble grows
inch by inch, molecule 
by molecule coursing 
through your veins.

Trouble begins as a whisper
day by day growing louder.
Stronger than your heart beat
becoming a thumping drum.

Soon you will forget 
there was a time
when trouble was 
not at your side.

riding dark horse nightmare

to prison library
where sewer
backs up flooding
cages of books
my brains are washed
by a short scientist

detectives trail me
arrested by police
giving up to
handcuffs  ether

now on train
calendars peel
off cars
1942   1962   1982
2198   1892   1294
passengers screaming
screaming off track
burning 3rd rail

in swamp struggling
to reach green reeds
i   am   a
fixed target
paper duck
*pull trigger*fire pin*thru barrel*into muzzle*
b u l l e t                 s h o t
paper duck
mowed down.


this blur of hours, this waking sleep 
sometimes in & then out of this world
we are dragged across another night

black wells roll thru eyes…trains 
whizzing at 11 o'clock  1 o'clock
winds trace tree shadows over walls

on that white trapeze afraid to let go
afraid to drop to nightmares lodged
in corners shrunken wide-mouthed

cars creep down streets as first 
weak light  s t r e t c h e s  over roofs 
&  the radio provides some likely song  

there is no time to find what is lost
we march like tin soldiers in an 
ungodly war with eyes slit at 6 o’clock

dry mouths, throats burning, dazed as
sirens screech pass another morning 
warning of another day of quiet storms 

Joan McNerney’s poetry has been included in numerous literary magazines such as Seven Circle Press, Dinner with the Muse, Moonlight Dreamers of Yellow Haze, Blueline, and Halcyon Days.  Four Bright Hills Press Anthologies, several Poppy Road Review Journals, and numerous Kind of A Hurricane Press publications have accepted her work.  She has four Best of the Net nominations and her latest titles are The Muse in Miniature and Love Poems for Michael, both available on

1 comment:

  1. Hi DC: Tried to send you an email but it was returned. Want to thank you so much for this Selected Works spot. Hope you are okay. I recently had foot surgery and am hobbling around here in the dank woodlands of upstate New York. Keep on keeping on.