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MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
Issue 11: January 2022
Poem: 224 words
By Robert L. Dean, Jr.

Just East of Midnight

You won’t find it on a map, 
a watch, it’s completely 

off the charts, neither space 
nor time, a little piece of 

unreality, cruising NotMain 
Street at AnyTimeOfTheDayOrNight 

every day of the week and also 
not at all, looking for unhookers 

and drug misdealers, the Dunkin’ Hole 
where cops regurgitate event horizons of 

tiny glazed universes and coffee gurgles 
up from cups to percolators 

and the morning news has footnotes 
instead of headlines, no notices 

of death and destruction though 
the Joneses welcomed a new 

addition to the family, either a 
baby or a foreign exchange student, 

it doesn’t really matter to the folks here—
and there are folks here, or were, or 

will be, once you forward on through 
to the inskirts of town, the church bells 

unpeal, the bullets rifle back into guns, 
knives eject from flesh, hate flushes down 

mongers’ mouths. But it’s here, you know 
it’s here. You can feel it in your heartbeat, 

taste it in your lungs. Perhaps you’ve arrived 
too early, too late. You glance around 

at the eyeless night, glance up 
at the eyeful sky. Beneath you, 

the earth rotates westward. You 
do not. You have no memory of it 

ever otherwise. Without waiting, 
you wait. Existence, you realize, 

is not of the essence here. 


Author’s Note: The title is from Charles Wright’s Littlefoot.

Publisher’s Note:

Littlefoot by Charles Wright is a book-length poem, an extended meditation on mortality (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux: New York; 2008). The line quoted above is from Section 12 (page 27): “Just east of midnight, / the north sky scrolls from right to left, / a dark player piano....”

Source: Google Books Preview (link retrieved 7 December 2021).

Robert L. Dean, Jr.
Issue 11, January 2022

is the author of two full-length books: The Aerialist Will Not Be Performing, ekphrastic poems and short fictions after the art of Steven Schroeder (Turning Plow Press, 2020), and a poetry collection, At the Lake with Heisenberg (Spartan Press, 2018). His chapbook, Pulp, is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press in July 2022.

Nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2019 and multiple times for Best of the Net, his work has appeared in Chiron Review; Flint Hills Review; Heartland! Poetry of Love, Resistance & Solidarity; I-70 Review; Illya’s Honey; KYSO Flash; MacQueen’s Quinterly; Mocking Heart Review; October Hill Magazine; Red River Review; River City Poetry; Sheila-Na-Gig online; Shot Glass; The Ekphrastic Review; Thorny Locust; and the Wichita Broadside Project.

A native Kansan, Dean studied music composition with Dr. Walter Mays at Wichita State University before going on the road as a bass player, conductor, and arranger; he was a professional musician for 30 years, playing with acts such as Jesse Lopez, Bo Didley, Frank Sinatra Jr., Vic Damone, Jim Stafford, Kenny Rankin, B. W. Stevenson, and the Dallas Jazz Orchestra. And he put in a stint with the house band at the Fairmont Hotel Venetian Room in Dallas. While living in Dallas, he also worked 20 years for The Dallas Morning News and made the transition from music to writing before moving back to Kansas in 2007.

Dean is a member of the Kansas Authors Club, and the event coordinator for Epistrophy: An Afternoon of Poetry and Improvised Music, held annually in Wichita, Kansas. He lives in Augusta, Kansas, along with a universe of books, CDs, LPs, an electric bass, and a couple dozen hats. In his spare time, he practices the time-honored art of hermitry.

More on the Web: By, About, and Beyond

Hopper and Dean: Interview and poems in River City Poetry (Fall 2017).

Metal Man, ekphrastic poem inspired by a 1955 photograph of Dean’s paternal grandfather in the Boeing machine shop; published in The Ekphrastic Review (28 July 2018) and nominated for Best of the Net.

Windmill, ekphrastic poem inspired by Dean’s maternal grandfather; published in KYSO Flash (Issue 11, Spring 2019) and nominated for the Pushcart Prize. This poem is among half-a-dozen of Dean’s ekphrastic works published in KYSO Flash (Issues 11 and 12).

Llama, 1957, ekphrastic haibun inspired by Inge Morath’s photograph A Llama in Times Square; published in The Ekphrastic Review (13 January 2018).

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