Sunday, October 21, 2012

Guest Poet: Irene McKinney

Irene McKinney was West Virginia's Poet Laureate from January 1994 until her death in February 2012. I am only discovering her work. 

You have Irene McKinney (and my stubbornness) largely to thank for the absence of more of my personal poetry. My intentions were to write poetry, not prose. I wrote to her once, years ago, in the manner of a new writer seeking validation from an experienced one. 

I shall seek my answers within her poetry.


Have you had enough darkness yet?
No, I haven't had enough darkness.
Have you had enough fire?

Enough wind and rain?
Enough black ink?
Ask me again, later.

Have you had enough sugar?
Enough salt? No.

I haven't had enough salt.
Are you finished with wringing your hands?

Finished with spiders and silks
And creatures of glamour?
Probably not.

Winsome looks?
Pity? Never.

I feel pity right now
For everyone who got broken,
Including me. Pity feels

Like a sore and swollen heart
Leaking blood and tears
So hot they sting.

Imagine that. Stay there.
Have you had enough wind?
No. Enough earth? No.

Enough water? No, not nearly enough.
Enough dirt to walk on?

No. Never, never.


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