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MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
Issue 11: January 2022
Micro-Poem: 32 words
Lyrical Memoir: 280 words
Publisher’s Note: 247 words
By Janet McMillan Rives

Two Linked Works

 

 
Reynolds School

Upstairs, two classrooms. 
Downstairs, two restrooms. 
Outside, a playground. 
Beyond it, some cows. 
Inside, fifth graders. 
Next door, fourth graders. 
Among them, a quiet boy. 
Inside him, despair. 
Ahead, destruction. 

 

 

On Spring Hill

On a Sunday afternoon in late April at the end of sixth grade while I was banging a tennis ball against our white garage door probably leaving little gray marks all over it and Dad was mowing the lawn, the fresh light green shoots that appear in early Spring, Mr. Ingalls rushed over from next door, signaled the two of us to come to him so he could tell us that a young boy who lived near Spring Hill had just yesterday afternoon killed his fourteen-year-old brother and his mother and father with a .22, leaving my father and me to wonder if it could have been my classmates JR or Doug, both of whom lived on Spring Hill with fourteen-year-old brothers, but we found out the next day that it was Robert, the sullen boy I knew from the year before when overcrowding in his school and mine forced our two classes to relocate to Reynolds School, a two-room school house out in the country with cows roaming around the school yard, where one warm day I saw Robert off by himself as usual and I asked him if he wanted to join in the game of “chicken” going on at recess to which he answered yes, so I jumped on his back, my arms wrapped around the collar of his red checkered shirt, and tried to knock other girls off the backs of boys they were riding, kids I would come to know well in junior high and high school but not Robert because he was locked up for the rest of his life in the Norwich Mental Hospital.

 



Publisher’s Note:

At the end of October 2021, I received email from Ms. Rives asking how she might get in touch with Robert L. Dean, Jr. While doing research for a writing class, she had come across his poem “Newsboy” in MacQ (July 2020). And as she wrote in a later email, “his poem really made an impact on me.”

Her assignment in the writing class was a one-sentence story, and she had chosen as subject matter the day in sixth grade when she found out that a boy who attended her school had killed his immediate family: brother, father, and mother. That boy, 11-year-old Robert Curgenven, was also the subject of Dean’s poem, the same boy whose actions would haunt his schoolmates for decades to follow. “Some things you just never forget,” Ms. Rives wrote.

She wanted to share her story with Mr. Dean, and of course I was glad to forward her request on to him. A couple of weeks later, I followed up with an invitation to send me her one-sentence story and additional pieces to consider for MacQ. To my delight, she accepted.

And now I’m pleased and honored to present four of her works here in Issue 11: the two linked pieces above, as well as a poem and a photograph:

In the Dead of Winter + World War II Ration Books

By the way, the poem by Robert L. Dean, Jr. appears in Issue 4: Newsboy

Janet McMillan Rives
Issue 11, January 2022

was born in and raised in Connecticut. When she was in high school, her family moved to Arizona, and she currently lives in Tucson. After teaching for 35 years, she retired as Professor Emerita of Economics from the University of Northern Iowa. Her poems have appeared in The Avocet, Lyrical Iowa, Raw Art Review, The Ekphrastic Review, Beyond Words, Heirlock, Sandcutters, The Blue Guitar, Unstrung, and Fine Lines and in a number of anthologies, most recently Voices from the Plains IV and The Very Edge. Her first chapbook, Into This Sea of Green: Poems from the Prairie, was published in 2020.

Author’s website: https://www.janetmrives.com

 
 
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