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MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
Issue 10: October 2021
Poem: 171 words
By Eric Nelson


Such a strange contraption—bellow shaped 
thing with springs, sprockets, mechanicals 
more awkward than a pterodactyl. And how 
little evolved—a man who fell asleep 
in the 19th century and woke up today 
as rain began 
would be terrified by everything 
except the suddenly blooming umbrellas, so like 
the one he carried on the boulevards of Paris. 


Who isn’t chagrined to see one 
stuffed inside a trash can, ribs snapped, cloth 
flapping like a useless wing? 
Or splayed in a gutter—parts exposed, humiliated 
by its enemies—wind and rain and sun? 


The one I left on my chair at the bakery 
is found by another customer, who takes it 
gratefully into the cloudy day. 
Then forgets it on the floor of a cab 
where it lies, little shadow, until the next 
fare finds it and smiles at her fortune 
when the hard, first drops hit the windshield. 


Thus it moves—hand to hand, head over head, 
time out of mind—practical halo 
protecting each of us in our turn. 



—From the poet’s forthcoming collection, Horse Not Zebra

Eric Nelson’s
Issue 10, October 2021

poems have appeared in many print and online venues, including The Sun, Poetry, The Oxford American, Poetry Daily, and Verse Daily. The most recent of his six poetry collections, Some Wonder, was published by Gival Press in 2015. His new collection, Horse Not Zebra, will be published in 2022. He lives in Asheville, North Carolina.

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