Marguerite Harrold



A Summer in Mississippi

I heard a truck go whistling by,
Screams muffled as it passed,
It frightened me like a knotted rope
And drew me to where the dusty roads crossed,
Maybe I can make magic;
Maybe I can make it stop.

His screaming echoed through and through
Under the dark
A tree, a barn,
A glinted cotton gin fan.

His skull was split in two.
The sky was ambivalent.
The halves fell inside me,
Split in two.
The moon was wringing its hands.

*After Elizabeth Bishop’s “Behind Stowe”


The Trifecta: The Horse You Rode In On

I am what you try to escape                        I am the sweat stained sheets
I am the honesty you debate                       I am the Saturday morning treat
I am the only secret you kept                      I am the twice the time you wept
I am the musk you can’t scrub off              I am the spit in your cough


I am the baby you made then aborted by proxy
I am the dirty undertone             You can’t wash me
I am what you won’t confess
I am captivated by your treacherousness
I am the womb you climb into
I am the stigma of who you’ve been                                     Over and over again
I am your mother’s black skin


The Madison Street Bus

I hear you girl
Breath heavy
Sucking air like a Slurpee
Your mouth weary
As if it were the last pieces of blue

Trying to catch
A few minutes of sleep
On the bus           Nodding
Undreaming the one whose terror tongue holds your sleep hostage

I see you
Behind those sunglasses
Soul bruising bursting through
Light nearly sifted out
Shame slapped upside your head
Like lye                               Like last year’s lace-front wig

Like a grifter he’s artfully lifted your assets
Your wishes Your wonderful gifts
Worn down your womb into worm food
Whipped out                     Worried on           Wiped clean for the next user

When your head slides and jerks           slides and jerks
Then finally slips and lands on my shoulder
I keep really still
Until it’s my turn to get off


Marguerite Harrold received her MFA in Poetry from Columbia College Chicago. She is a member of the Squaw Valley Community of Writers, and has had poems published in The Columbia Poetry Review, The Squaw Valley Review, RHINO, Eleven Eleven, 5X5 and the Criminal Class Review among other journals, as well as in the anthology, Spaces Between Us: Poetry, Prose and Art on HIV/AIDS. She lives in Chicago and works in HIV Prevention.