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MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
Issue 11: January 2022
Poem: 110 words
By Madeline Artenberg


Mother was a sand dune; 
I was a camel. 

On each birthday, she’d whisper: 
“I wish you were 
never born.” Other days, 
she’d throw her body across mine 
to block an incoming sneeze. 

If she’d been vanilla 
pudding or Lucille Ball, 
I might’ve become 
a mother. But I gave up 
on babies for the first 
bad boy and rock 
’n roll was born. 

Today’s your birthday, 
my Philodendron. 
You’ve done well 
’though I water you 
only when I notice 
your head bowed. 

Early on, I almost lost you 
when you pushed against 
the small pot. Now, 
lean and lanky at ten, 
you still produce new leaves. 

I still taste sand. 

Madeline Artenberg
Issue 11, January 2022

Before falling for poetry, Madeline Artenberg was a press-pass-carrying photojournalist and street-theatre performer. She has been co-producing the Alternative New Year’s Day Poetry Extravaganza in New York City since 2002.

Her work has been published in, among others: Rattle, Mudfish, theravensperch, The POET, Caprice, Literature Today International Journal, Absinthe Literary Review, Skidrow Penthouse, Pudding House, Salonika, Vernacular, and Ducts.

Her awards and prizes include:

  • Mudfish poetry prize: finalist (2020)

  • Best of the Net: poem nominated by Poets Wear Prada (2020)

  • Highland Park Poetry Challenge: honorable mention (2017)

  • Margie, The American Journal of Poetry contest: semi-finalist (2005)

  • Poetry Forum contest: 1st prize (2003)

  • nycbigcitylit/Lyric Recovery contest: semi-finalist (2001)

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