Mary McGinnis

Mary McGinnis

Mary McGinnis has been writing and living in New Mexico since 1972. Her work has been published in over 65 little magazines and anthologies. The terrain and the spaciousness of New Mexico have inspired her to write poems about nature, love and death, and becoming part of the disability community. Working at her local center for independent living has inspired her to write about her disability experience. She has learned that she has more in common with other people with disabilities than she had realized. She participates in two writing groups where lots of laughter, writing, and sharing of good food and words take place.

So far in 2004, she was one of the judges for the All As One poetry contest sponsored by VSA arts and the Harwood Arts Center. She gave a poetry reading at Theater Works in Santa Fe with poet Jane Lipman and was a featured poet at the Mountain Air Poets and Writers Picnic. She had a reading her work at Collected Works Bookstore in Santa Fe on April 12th, 2005. Her latest book contains pieces about altered states, grief and loss, food and communications with ghosts.


People want to know
the way my camera works;

(there are different cameras,
different ways of seeing —)

different ways of looking,
one where you strain

to see into shadows,
staring until confused,

and one where you appear not to be looking —
and the picture has a strange flower

outside the appropriate fence.
In dreams my body is my camera

I'm where I am, it's kinesthetic,
in the beginning the circles of confusion

are manageable
the way the child's world is supposed to be

though a small aperture:
the back steps, the anonymous square of bland lawn

above the flood plane.

But then I make my own colors
bright and dark reds, blues and bluegreens.

Whether they are like your colors,
I don't know.

And I bring in my own people:
mother, father, therapist, lost lovers,

the ex-husband of a therapist, whoever I
didn't know I was thinking about before I fell asleep.

© 2008 Mary McGinnis; all rights reserved

To My Third Boss

Open a little at a time —
you are not granite.

Rub soft colors around your prissy mouth,
listen to the flute outside our window;

when we frustrate you,
as we will most certainly do,

being prone to laughing too much,
and working with our voice mails blocked —

remember the cool, dark trees you saw out skiing:
think of the words, “cool and calm,”

surrounding you in your room.
If your tension continues to increase,

drift over white snow and lower your head slowly,
to study the ragged prints of birds.

When you are ready to pelt us with tart words,
remember your grandmother.

Pull her out of the pot of your regret, pull out
her arthritic hands and feet and uncurl them gently.

Say good morning to grandmother's hands,
bringing tears to your eyes.

Open and stretch a little at a time:
try belching and guffawing.

Finger paint a Mandela;
get one of your friends to bring you an ice cream

so big you will be eating it for half an hour;
spill it on your blouse and don't wipe it off —

go out into the street and fall in love
with a man who dances while he walks.

© 2008 Mary McGinnis; all rights reserved

Pick Up The Broken

Pick up the broken pieces and hold them —
the dead child, the dry sound,
the brick that was worn away by water,

the untagged cup of ashes.
The dry child, the dead letter; the medicine bottle
without a label, read and throw over your left shoulder.

Shake and mail, untie and make haste,
put back together then separate carefully —
the green wood, the black edge, the appointment

rescheduled. Hold and undo, lick and dream,
breathe and put to rest. The dry sound can live
on nothing if it has to. The wood will go up and out

once struck by a match.
Break though the old lesions and let them go.
After the first stage of pain, there was a place where

nothing and everything mattered equally —
numbness came like a witch hazel compress
to smooth out the forehead. I welcomed numbness

and tickled her like an uncle would. Then as the old stones
broke, I let the chirr of a bird in.
I moved toward the bird and distributed the ashes

as requested. I started a dishwasher
for the first time, started that curious and secret
heart beating again.

When I needed to hold something,
I held the part of me that was broken.
Here, along a new edge,

hold it together, now hold it apart;
sit on a bridge, opener closed;
so much of us will do what we can:

will re-do and fold over,
will repeat. If you need to hold something,
hold the part of me that is unknown to you.

© 2008 Mary McGinnis; all rights reserved

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