Jami Macarty

from A Body in Liberating Strife


Jackdaw. Magpie. Clouds roll south. Sun enough to melt the snow. This sky’s dependable returning to blue. The country’s at war. The trees lean a little to the right, left. Seldom grow straight up. Full of promise, their buds. I don’t know what the promise is. Someone said promise and now I say what he said and honestly I don’t know if it is promise. I know bloom.

Opening. Is that nature’s promise? Along with the sky’s blue. No, it’s not like that. O listen to the bells he said yesterday, chock full of storm. The clouds hanging in the sky like the church’s carillon, ringing ringing April snow.

Magpie on a pinnacle limb. Buds tinged red.


I do not see sorrow in a horse. I see capture. Wild horses on wild land. 30 of them captured so the others can live better. 30 of them up for adoption. $125 for one $250 for a mare and colt. Why do we intervene. I can sit here all day telling you what I see. That one gingerly traversing cobblestones. What I hear. Is that lovemaking behind this door. Why isn’t this war.

Pilots set down a helicopter. The enemy’s really just Afghani and Iraqi people from other geography and beliefs. They talk about climbing over the body and the wings of the helicopter. Then pose for a picture. The enemy takes the pilots’. One of the pilots takes the enemy’s.


Julio Gonzales will be serving detention in the future according to a white leaf blown against the blue door of my room. The parent’s signature blank. Julio Gonzales, what did you do? You’re too young to enlist.


The woodpecker keeps knocking. The ant knows where it’s going. The women outside my door, seem to have a lot to say to each other. A little girl struggles to keep up. So do I, even though I closed the door to get serious. A window’s a perfect cover for a book. I step into bitterness while reading what I do not understand. Read to the gurgles of belly. Let the prologue fill with apricots. Brush the tea from teeth. I'm not at war, but on my own to write. I kiss the amulet and ride my pen into the gallery town. Mad jazz of dogs at chain-link. Take the quieter way. Imagine I'm on my way to a casino and assured a win. In this town there are two, sometimes three, fortunes in one cookie. Alert from the Emergency Broadcast System.

[reading poetry]

A woodpecker taps a racket in a budding birch. Alliterate taps that make me want to look. When I turn my attention away from what I am reading and toward the birch, the woodpecker stops tapping. I search for the woodpecker. When I get fed up trying to find the woodpecker, I turn back to the book of poetry.

As soon as I do, that little pecker starts up again. I look. It stops. I look away. It starts again.

It goes on like this all morning. I have no idea why the woodpecker is so hostile toward me.

Pretty soon in every tree in the courtyard a woodpecker taps.

So it is with war. Woodpeckers out-number me and the poems.

[hit and run]

Clop clop. Clop clop clop. Five black helicopters from south to north. How the planet turns 21st century. A black coat like a hit and run animal in road’s middle. I tug the cuff. Touch its emptiness. Its spook. No coat. Cold person. As it drives away, Cadillac collides with smiley balloon.

Jami Macarty is the author of three chapbooks of poetry: Instinctive Acts, from Nomados Literary Publishers, 2018, Mind of Spring, which won the 2017 Vallum Chapbook Award (Vallum Chapbook Series, October 2017), and Landscape of The Wait, a poetic response to her nephew William’s car accident and year-long coma (Finishing Line Press, June 2017). She teaches contemporary poetry and creative writing at Simon Fraser University and edits the online poetry journal The Maynard. For more info: https://jamimacarty.com/
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