Long Overdue

Leaves scratch the sidewalk again, and the air here is electric with possibility, according to the meteorologist. How are you? Do you still have that old metal canoe, leaning against the carport, scantily clad in holey blue tarp and whatever debris found its way to you? Remember sitting on your back patio after you took me in so I finally could leave safely? Two years sober, but I’m still buying name brands. It’s a long road to the root of an addiction. My mother says she’s depressed after her hip surgery, but really she’s losing her mind. And I still haven’t found the perfect black sweater. I miss you, Alice. Please tell me you’ve let go of being a parent. That it’s even possible, like these four inches of first snow in October. After all these years my parents still fail me. I pray for compassion before they die. Is canoe just another word for fossil or regret? No matter how many black sweaters I buy I never feel happy. There is no escaping this accumulating decay. The birds outside my window flit to find protection. All the limbs are naked—sweaterless. xo

Amanda McGuire

What is the significance of this work to you? 

I'm interested in exploring the connections between reality, memory, and imagination. Like many of my poems, these both stemmed from writing exercises. As William Stafford says, "In writing, a trick is to give yourself good assignments." For example, "Long Overdue" stems from a writing assignment author/illustrator Lindsay Moore gave during a workshop on Scatter Hoarding. 

What is the significance of the form you chose for this work?

Prose poems, to me, are about speed and voice. Line breaks create pause and consideration in their use of negative space on the page. These pieces called for prose poems because they wanted to say it all in one breath, like that very talkative friend that says a little too much. And prose poems have a way leaping between ideas that may or may not connect—here arrives the voice. The lack of punctuation—my "assignment"—in "You Give Me Fever" furthers the voice—a narrator with a fever watching Game of Thrones but thinking about other things...

What was your process for creating these pieces?

Observational notetaking, doodling, and lots of non-thinking while walking, yoga-ing, and baking: I do these daily, obsessively, until there's the moment when it's time to write. I listen for that moment. 

Amanda McGuire’s work has appeared in Cream City Review, the Toledo Museum of Art, and other literacy spaces. She teaches writing, literature for young people, and yoga at Bowling Green State University.

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