Poetry/Creative non-fiction/fiction

Elephant and Sunset Mural April 30, 2012

Filed under: Poetry — jessicacolleenmcdermott @ 2:21 am
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A Haiku for Jay


Her eyes are the voice.

Red sun. Blue sky. Standing still.

A mother, grown old.


Mother Maus and Father Maus: A thought on Maus I and Challah April 26, 2012

Filed under: Poetry — jessicacolleenmcdermott @ 11:24 pm
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For Art Spiegelman

Schadenfreude: Joy derived from the misfortunes of others or in destruction.


No matter how you tie it. The mask is a mouse.

The smelling, digging, scavenging kind. The kind

that survive. Or the kind that make it through with-

out breathing.



Have you ever liked your own breath, mommy?

Fur all gray and knotted up. Plucked from home,

tossed into a flame of Schadenfreude meant only

for us. The fences, stars, guns, starvation,




When you survived, were you happy?


When the three strands are sewn together, like

thread pulled through the eye of a needle.

Then twisted, first over the top, next underneath,

then back over and pinched. The single piece is




Like manna, from heavens mouth. Every individual

one Challah. One purpose, one heritage, one grief.

When one is missing, all of it is.



Did you cry when you cut your wrists, mommy?


Did it hurt to bleed out your pain in a tub down

the hall from my room? The porcelain stained in

red circles, like the spirals in fences. A signal to

stop, a guardrail you built and crossed.



 They thought it was me. At the funeral I heard

them. Whispers in squeaks about my illness, your

illness, our illness. I’m caught inside a trap. You

set it, mommy. Coaxed me in with bate I couldn’t




Is it all your fault? Is it mine?


It was your love. Or that’s how dad sees it.

He still weeps for you.  That was your plan. The

final solution. Weave a man so deep then set him

loose.  Alone, without a woman, wife, or friend.

Without you.



I don’t understand. You have lived with rats before.

You let dad convince you they were mice. When did

his voice stop speaking? When did your eyes stop seeing,

and you decided you were done?



He burnt your journals all up. The ones you wrote for

me. When I asked him why, he said they had too many




He murdered your voice. I can’t remember what you

sound like. Maybe, like a meow? A strained drawn out

yowl of a meow. A cry for help.



Did you ever read me your life when I was young?

Let the pauses between lines slide into my ears like

dough? Ever tell me what it was like to hide? The numb-

ness it takes to squeeze into holes. And stay there.



Did I tell you I don’t believe it? None of it. Not the

manna or the curls or the candles. It’s been terminated.



Did you believe?


I called him a murderer. Your husband, not the poison

that choked Richieu, or the men who took your mom

and dad. He let the torch take the only part of you

you gave. Paper. Words, like the rest of them.



Are you with God now?


Do you not cry anymore, mommy? The way dad said

you did when you went to The Sanitarium. Echoes that

scream from within the soft gooey center but stay out

of sight.



But that is where we touch, can’t you see it mommy?

Those are the parts where we bleed into each other.

Burn off the water and grow firm.



Why didn’t you feel it when we tried to braid your worries

into our own?


Letting Drips Drip April 23, 2012

Filed under: Poetry — jessicacolleenmcdermott @ 5:53 am
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Tessa lets her tears slip down her cheeks. To feel

them streak- like flipping paint over a blank canvas

in her room. The white sheet below polka dotted

in reds, purples, greens, and blues.


I don’t know what it’s like to let paint slide, let the

streams stick wet. Let the moment stay visible over

my skin. I swipe with my hand as soon as they form.


I pretend they leave when they disappear, but Tessa

knows the warmth in letting them breathe. The peace

in letting them sink until they drop.


A Paean for Spring April 10, 2012

Filed under: Poetry — jessicacolleenmcdermott @ 4:19 am
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Against the front window, white blossoms pop on

gray wood. Smells of cut grass, budding sap, and

greenness bloom.


We are awake. Sun freckles faces, colors light

over skin.


We sweat, bend, and breathe. The sacred

promise of warmth has arrived.