Three Poems by Joan McNerney


Gloria sat beside the kitchen window

watching snow fall over sycamores

What could she hope for,  

some good news brought by mail?  

An unexpected call?  


Her phone rang with reminders

of medical appointments.   

No mail ever came but bills

from doctors, clinics, hospitals,

ads, charity appeals.  


She had grown accustomed to suffering,

inured to the idea that her life was

without much happiness or success.

Accustomed to pain running along

her back, through her knees, her feet,

shortness of breath, cancers.


Now in retirement, what was really left?

Just bottles of pills to take every day.

Death used to be something Gloria could

brush off. It happened to someone else.  

Now it seemed so close, as if it might

come any day from some cold hand.

©Joan McNerney



Did you see that woman falling

from the escalator at Grand Central

Terminal?  Lying in dark circles of

blood?  Begging the police not to

tell anyone?  She would be alright

when she got up.


What about her?


Did you see that woman screaming

in front of the newsstand? Hear

those screams of hatred spewing

from her face?  Notice her eyes….

burning slits of light?  Maybe

she can’t be tranquilized anymore?


What about her?


Did you see that woman walking

across the street?  Wearing those

special shoes?  All the toes

on her right foot cut off?  Isn’t

it awful?  Watch her getting on

the bus, all that pain on her face.

How much longer can she keep going?


What about her?


Did you see that woman?  Ashen

and still as a corpse.  Lying

by the side of the Palisades

Highway?  Her hair so grey,

her legs so straight. Lying

in the short grass.  She was

always running off schedule

Always trying to be on time.


What about her?

©Joan McNerney


Eve Speaks


Although just one snake is well known

in that so-called paradise,  actually

there were tons of them.


When we ran away, I was never so

happy.  My feet no longer touching

swarms of mushy poison.

Fruit smelled to high heaven in Eden but

berries tasted yum yum good as we filled

our faces hurrying happily to the east.


Adam replies


She’s so beautiful.  I would have

followed her to the ends of earth.

I am her captive then and now.

©Joan McNerney

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