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MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
Issue 14: August 2022
Poem: 163 words
By Betsy Mars


From my parents’ window I watched 
as they placed each block so carefully, 

each pair bisecting the one below 

and then the slop, slop, slop 
of mortar to join, then the trowel 

to scrape away the excess glop, nothing 

left but the even lines hardening 
the face of the newly erected wall. 

From the back alley toward the street 

the wall extended between the houses 
where it came to an end in a tangle 

of untended space, 

that dark place 
where I was sure something lurked, 

where one day there would be a breach. 

Each night in bed, as the wind rustled the leaves 
and the always-damp ground muffled sound, 

I imagined a cloaked figure unseen 

behind the thick gardenia hedge, 
its sweet perfume masking the scent of sweat, 

his urgent fingers lifting the window screen, 

slipping into my room to do slow harm, 
or to take me far from that precarious home, 
too far gone before my parents’ first alarm. 


Betsy Mars
Issue 14, August 2022

is a prize-winning poet and photographer, and publishes an occasional anthology through Kingly Street Press. She is an assistant editor at Gyroscope Review. Poetry publications include ONE ART, Rise Up Review, Anti-Heroin Chic, New Verse News, and Sky Island. She is a Best of the Net and Pushcart Prize nominee. Betsy’s photos have been featured in the Rattle Ekphrastic Challenge, Spank the Carp, Praxis, and Redheaded Stepchild. She is the author of Alinea (Picture Show Press, 2019) and co-author of In the Muddle of the Night (2021) with Alan Walowitz.

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