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MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
Issue 14: August 2022
Poem: 223 words
By Julie Weiss

Once Upon a Lie

No arguments snapped in half 
under my impatient heel. 
No bedtime backtalk crouched 

in the shadows of their mouths. 
Tonight, they don’t growl at me 
or pounce in defiance of sleep. 

I slink through the wilderness 
of silence, my kisses a soft breeze 
on their foreheads, their dreams 

lost in a land of gift bearers. 
No one warned me of the lies 
I’d rinse off my mouth like caked 

blood when I became a mother. 
The ultimatums I’d dress in colorful 
ensembles. The flamboyant threats 

I’d paint on Easter eggs. 
The promises of coal I’d dump 
into stockings for every act of mischief. 

They’ve taped pictures on the wall 
next to their beds, an offering 
to tonight’s character of good behavior, 

who will swoop into our home 
through the cracks in logic, coins 
balanced on invisible fairy wings, 

signed note flawless despite the rain. 
Tonight, I’ve stripped my voice 
of its barbed wire. I’ve shut 

the cage door on my frustration, 
set free the beasts prowling my tongue. 
I could sprinkle the leftover marshmallows 

in a cup of hot cocoa, float down the stream 
of my breath. Instead, I cower in a trap 
of my own making, the figments 

of someone else’s imagination towering 
over me, gnarling as I watch my remorse 
bob on the surface of a poem. 


Julie Weiss
Issue 14, August 2022

(she/her) is the author of The Places We Empty, her debut collection published by Kelsay Books. She won Sheila-Na-Gig’s Editor’s Choice Award for her poem “Cumbre Vieja,” was a finalist in Alexandria Quarterly’s First Line Poetry Series, was shortlisted for Kissing Dynamite’s 2021 Micro-chap Series, and was named a finalist for the 2022 Saguaro Poetry Prize. She is a two-time nominee for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net, and her recent work appears in Gyroscope Review, ONE ART, Sky Island Journal, and others. Originally from California, she lives in Spain with her wife and two young children.

List of publications and other details are available at her blog:
Welcome to My Renaissance

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