I build a little house of words high in an oak and shut my heart inside. She needs rest. And time to clear the cobwebs out. I fill the walls with clouds and clocks, then wasps creep in and make their muted sounds, like suds evaporating in the tub. Every day, I watch them enter and leave. My heart likes the company. She’s a little frayed but still works, that heart of mine, and leans out the window to make friends with some birds. She shakes a few seeds into her palm and whistles. She coos and then waits. A long time passes, but a small flock gathers. She tells them she’d like to come back as a sparrow. I can see the appeal—the cocked head, the bright eye, the hope that comes with wings. But she doesn’t know sparrows like I do. Pick a different bird, I want to shout up to her. Any other one. Be a hunter, at least, a hawk or an owl, stealthy and hungry and at home in the dark.
is the author of four books of prose poems and three chapbooks, most recently Instructions for My Imposter (Press 53) and Nineteen Letters (BatCat Press). She is also the author of Heart in a Jar (White Pine Press, 2017), Stay (Press 53, 2015), October Again (Burnside Review Press, 2012), and Whatever Shines (White Pine Press, 2001). In 2011, Parlor Press published We’ll See, a book of her translations of contemporary French poet Georges Godeau’s prose poems.
Her poems, prose poems, and translations have appeared in more than 50 literary venues, including among others: Boston Review, Copper Nickel, Crazyhorse, December, Denver Quarterly, Epoch, Field, Glassworks, Indiana Review, Miramar, Ploughshares, Prairie Schooner, Quiddity, Quarterly West, Rhino, Seneca Review, Sweet, The Antioch Review, The Laurel Review, West Branch, and Willow Springs—and in these anthologies published by White Pine Press: Nothing to Declare: A Guide to the Flash Sequence (2016), The Best of the Prose Poem: An International Journal (2000), The House of Your Dream: An International Collection of Prose Poetry (2008), and The Party Train: A Collection of North American Prose Poetry (1996).
Ms. McGookey has received grants from the Irving S. Gilmore Foundation, the Arts Fund of Kalamazoo County, the Sustainable Arts Foundation (2014), and the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs. She has taught creative writing at Hope College, Interlochen Arts Academy, and Western Michigan University.
Look Away”: A Conversation with Kathleen McGookey by David Nilsen in
On the Seawall (22 September 2020)
Sandra Arnold Interviews Kathleen McGookey in New Flash Fiction
Review (ca. 2018), about her work in the W. W. Norton anthology New Micro