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MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
Issue 13: May 2022
Poem: 268 words
By Ellaraine Lockie

The Semantics of Suicide

As a child the euphemisms 
that defined death confused me 
We lost Grandpa my mother said 
I asked her where we could find him 
She said he was in a better place 
I envisioned Disneyland 
My dad’s morning coffee crony 
said his cousin kicked the bucket 
And I couldn’t wait to play with him 
When I grew old enough to understand 
I used the word died and felt 
like an honest adolescent 

When my husband ended his life via suicide 
loved ones needed to be told first 
on the telephone and by me 
I used words sharpened by shock and truth 
with no platitudes to polish those words 
The fact that He heaved himself in front of a train 
arrowed its recipients’ hearts as it shot from my mouth 
Referring to a man who never raised his voice 
in all the years of our marriage 
A man who gentled everyone in his life 
A pacifist who wouldn’t smash a mosquito on his arm 
but blew on it instead 

Continuing to tell the inconceivable to friends 
and neighbors became my mission 
Hoping it was faster than gossip 
that grew on the neighborhood grapevine 
or hardened by headlines in the local newspaper 
The same no-nonsense words from me 
now smoothed into softness by the rhythm of repetition 

I watched the recipients relax into the arms of honesty 
where they didn’t need to worry about semantics for my sake 
My mother would have said He took his own life 
As for where he would have put it 
I believe it’s on a golf course in Scotland 


Ellaraine Lockie
Issue 13, May 2022

is a widely published and awarded poet, nonfiction book author, essayist, and visual artist. Recent work has won Oprelle Publishing’s Master’s Contest, Oprelle Publishing’s Bigger Than Me Contest, the 2019 Poetry Super Highway Contest, the Nebraska Writers Guild’s Women of the Fur Trade Poetry Contest, New Millennium’s Monthly Musepaper Poetry Contest, and First Place in the Artists Embassy International Dancing Poetry Contest.

Her newest poetry book is the coauthored Trio: Poetrylandia 4 (Wapshott Press, 2020). Sex and Other Slapsticks (Presa Press, 2019) is her 14th chapbook. Earlier collections have won Poetry Forum’s Chapbook Contest Prize, San Gabriel Valley Poetry Festival Chapbook Competition, Encircle Publications Chapbook Contest, Best Individual Poetry Collection Award from Purple Patch magazine in England, and the Aurorean’s Chapbook Choice Award.

Her poems have found their way onto broadsides, buses, rented cars, bicycles, cabins, greeting cards, key chains, bookmarks, mugs, coffee-sack labels, church bulletins, radio shows, and cable TV, as well as into hundreds of national and international journals, magazines, and anthologies.

Ellaraine has been awarded multiple residencies and writing fellowships from both Centrum and Summer Literary Seminars, and thirty-some of her poems have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. She also teaches writing workshops, frequently judges poetry contests, and serves as Poetry Editor for the lifestyles magazine Lilipoh.

Her pollages, which combine handmade papermaking, poetry, and collage, have appeared in juried art shows around the country and have been the subject of a one-woman gallery art show and several online essays and interviews. They also exist in several private art collections and have appeared in: The Centrifugal Eye, Rio Grande Review, Homestead Review, Sein Und Werden (England), Prairie Connection, Ascent Aspirations, and Alchemy. Ellaraine’s book The Gourmet Paper Maker (how to make paper with the inedible parts of fruits and vegetables) is published in six languages.

More on the Web: By, About, and Beyond

Ellaraine Lockie’s page at BookThatPoet!

Pollage Number 92, collage of poetry and hand-made paper by Ellaraine Lockie with watercolor/embroidery art by Phyllis Ross, in MacQueen’s Quinterly (Issue 1, January 2020)

Pollage Number 77, collage of poetry and hand-made paper by Ellaraine Lockie with watercolor art by Phyllis Ross, in KYSO Flash (Issue 10, Fall 2018)

The Mother Tree, Germany 1860s, First Finalist in The DavenTree Writing Challenge sponsored by KYSO Flash (Issue 11, Spring 2019)

The Animal Inside, ekphrastic poem by Ellaraine Lockie + photograph by Alexis Rhone Fancher, in KYSO Flash (Issue 10, Fall 2018)

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