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MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
Issue 11: January 2022
Poem: 320 words
By Jonathan Yungkans

La Victoire

—After the painting by René Magritte
 
The room is sand as if grass 
blades slice through life, drawing 
blood to drip between shifting 
grains. A door surrounds the beach 

with its wooden perspective, 
blocking clouds and tide’s pull, 
which are themselves elusive 
and illusive—a play of light 

in the foaming whiteness—
to twist a child’s question: 
Why is the sky unhappy? 
Or is it sand funneling 

how long my grassiness lasts 
through a glassine waistline, 
making both sun and moon such 
benign terrors to my shore—

*

offering to swallow me 
to revolve inside a wave’s 
panic? A pyrrhic entrance 
couldn’t knock any harder—

as if the door actually 
could remain shut, solid oak 
in its hush before wave strike. 
Its calm before the knob 

lends a brazen opinion 
to turn and cluck its tumblers 
in a lock which has no key, 
only tarnished skeletons—

bones polished between fingers 
for a lock of worry beads 
that claims it’s never broken, 
just forgetful, negligent 

*

of the sand grains it ingests, 
stealing time, grinding itself 
and the door open at whim. 
O Death, did you bring sunscreen, 

at least an umbrella, white 
and navy blue, for Camus 
to sit with us and listen 
as a tenor sings his 

life away and drops stone dead? 
Or do you hate opera, 
view it as existential 
entertainment? Is the door 

too nautical for your taste, 
vacillant in its expanse 
like a tunnel of a wave, 
the onshore breeze abrasive 

*

for what the sand it carries 
wears away? Or that a door 
can stay locked and cumulous, 
teasing on wind past a white 

enamel jamb and distend 
azure and aquamarine 
into an undulant line 
of a mind’s demarcation—

sleight of atmosphere hand—
while I remain motionless, 
watching? The moon is too you, 
pale and silent, biding time 

and pulling the tide, rocking 
an aqueous pendulum, 
making the door disappear 
in one more magic trick. 

 

 

Publisher’s Note:

La Victoire (The Victory) (oil on canvas, 1939) by Belgian surrealist painter René Magritte (1898–1967) is held by a private collector. Details, including an essay about the painting, are available at Christie’s:
https://www.christies.com/en/lot/lot-4050440

An image and additional information are also available at Rene Magritte: Biography, Paintings, and Quotes.

Jonathan Yungkans
Issue 11, January 2022

is a Los Angeles-based writer and photographer with an MFA from California State University, Long Beach. His work has appeared in San Pedro Poetry Review, Synkroniciti, West Texas Literary Review, Gleam: Journal of the Cadralor, MacQueen’s Quinterly, and other publications. His second poetry chapbook, Beneath a Glazed Shimmer, won the 2019 Clockwise Chapbook Prize and was published in February 2021 by Tebor Bach.

More on the Web: By, About, and Beyond

La Porte by Jonathan Yungkans in MacQ’s special Christmas Eve issue (10X, December 2021)

Two Duplex Poems, plus author’s notes on the poems and on the form, by Yungkans in Issue 10 of MacQ (October 2021)

Lawful and Proper, poem by Yungkans in Rise Up Review (Fall 2020)

Cadralor in the Key of F-Sharp as It Cuts into My Spine in the inaugural issue of Gleam (Fall 2020)

I’d Love to Cook Like Hannibal Lecter [video], read by the poet at an event sponsored by Moon Tide Press (10 October 2019) celebrating the anthology Dark Ink: A Poetry Anthology Inspired by Horror

Saving the Patient, poem in The Voices Project (18 January 2018)

 
 
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