Sarah Mackey Kirby

Sarah Mackey Kirby is a poet and writer from the United States. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in Connecticut River Review, Dream Noir, Impspired, Punk Noir, Rat’s Ass Review, and elsewhere. She is taking a hiatus from teaching history to the high school students that provide her with lots of joy and face-palms to focus on her writing. She holds an M.A. in Teaching and a B.A. in Political Science. She and her husband share their Louisville, Kentucky home with the dog and cat who allow them to live there. 

The Taste of Your Music

I saw your heart
beatbox to clocks.
Tick Saturday night
in San Francisco.
You, sipping pale ale. Me, bourbon
on rocks. Your yuck-face
at first taste of sourdough bread.
Love pouring out of pores
onto table and wood floor.
Uneven meter,
smiling frantic-manic-sad.
 
I smelled your style
through Georgia blues
and Summer’s guile.
Your mellow saxophone,
pecan-sugar-laugh
wafting through salt air.
While people stared.
Dancing I-don't-care crazy.
Fingers snapping pralines on the street,
circling to the car.
 
I felt your voice
sing-song rhythm and reason,
winding through morning Chelsea.
Vibrating through pain’s treason.
Timbre and texture
blowing in my ear.
Its varied dynamics
humming New York cheesecake.
Timid to crescendo
of spinning year.
 
I heard you plod
on Kentucky concrete.
Upbeat crepe myrtle
in magnolia neighborhoods.
Hiding stomps in tiptoes.
Your too-alone tone.
Scuffing shoes under constellations.
Dropping tears with no harmony,
at failure to suspend disbelief.
No relief from joy’s thief.
I tasted your pain
in Salem, Oregon’s wind.
Standing on the cusp of sane.
Crevices of Corvallis stings
and a myriad of things.
Melody that went unchallenged.
Coffee-bitter quiet
before the rain
set in to wash you away.
Without giving me a say.

First Day

The first day you’re told you might die
is a lonely day.
Not in the condescending
we-all-will-one-day way.
Or the shake-your-head at the
“I’m-gonna-pray-for-ya-
’cause-things-are-in-God’s-hands” way.
But in the tangible, hug-those-you-love
and throw-out-embarrassing-stuff way.
Because soon
folks will be going through your things.
 
And if you’re lucky,
you’ll have someone with you
when you hear it.
To catch you at near knee-collapse.
Hand you a tissue.
Give you a chest to lean into.
And if you’re luckier, you won’t.
So you can spend the loneliness alone.
Instead of giving a comfort-them speech,
as the pain on their face is worse
than all the rest of it.
 
But sometimes a breath
accompanies that first day.
A tinge of hope in the quicksand.
Not because the sky hasn’t darkened
to soon-to-storm clouds.
Or because watching friends
swirl beer bottles and front-porch-laugh
doesn’t give you an ache
you’re ashamed you feel.
But because you keep
having those first days.
Have for more than thirty years
spinning seasons with the earth.
And somehow,
you’re still here.

If I Could Run

If only for one day,
I could run.
Marathon distance or quick sprints
through the streets from my dreams.
No longer trapped
by this born-slowed-down heart.
Sewn up and seamed,
each beat out-of-step.
 
Feel a freedom, a redemption.
Unkempt hair blowing
dark, tangled mess.
In steady paces as lungs fill
with tree-blessed, wind-blown breath.
Tracing deep patterned time.
Embracing laced feet, through uphill
climb, drum-pressing concrete.
 
Aria Sparrow. Violin wren.
Cardinal concerto.
Rustled-leaf-penned
orchestral accompaniment
playing bone marrow Zen.
Singing drizzled rain
that mixes with welcome sweat.
 
Gazelle-leapt steps of liberty.
No longer subject to
blood and brain
that won’t behave.
Without constraints
or feigning brave.
If only for one day.

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