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MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
Issue 15: Sept. 2022
Prose Poems
1: 69 words [R]*
2: 67 words; 3: 63 words;
4: 49 words; 5: 89 words
By Linda Nemec Foster

Foreign Subplots



House of Strong Light—El Escorial

Philip II builds a monastery near Madrid with over 2000 windows. It’s designed like an upside down grille because the place is dedicated to St. Lawrence who (legend has it) was burned to death on a gridiron. His famous last words: “Turn me over, I’m done on this side.” When the sun sets on a clear day, the monastery’s windows fill with fire.


A Herd of Butterflies Near a Manor House—Scunthorpe, UK

As if their delicate bronze and black wings could even faintly resemble the appendages of cows or bison or goats or sheep or anything else that moves in herds. But the travel-weary tourist from upstate NY just blurts out the first thing that comes to his mind. The fluttering gemstones covering six forsythia bushes don’t care.


Primitive Art Above the Main Altar in a Museum that Used to be a Church—Holland

The city is forgotten, just like this church where only art lives now (not God) and primitive art at that. Mary riding a blue unicorn, Jesus flying a kite, Joseph striking a pose with his hammer and nails. Let’s not even imagine what the angels are doing.


Oak Tree Growing Out of a Skylight—Near Minsk

“Just a sapling breaking loose from its acorn prison,” says the village philosopher who sells goat cheese on the side. She wraps each wedge in green cloth that imprints its weave on the hardened skin: tiny leaves embracing each bite.


The Young Man Whose Face is Covered with a Birthmark in the Shape of a Cloud

He sits with his parents and a beautiful woman—girlfriend, fiancée, lover, wife?—in a posh restaurant in an exquisite city in the middle of Europe. Let’s say, east of Paris; let’s say, west of Kyiv. Let’s say he’s bored as he peruses the menu filled with minute descriptions of dead plants and animals. Nothing surprises him any more. Not even his reflection floating like a nimbus in the mirror across the room.



* “House of Strong Light—El Escorial” was first published in Michigan State University Library’s Short Éditions.


—This five-poem sequence is from the author’s forthcoming book Bone Country, to be released in March 2023 by Cornerstone Press (University of Wisconsin).

Linda Nemec Foster
Issue 15, September 2022

is the author of 12 published collections of poetry, including Amber Necklace from Gdansk (a finalist for the Ohio Book Award in Poetry; Louisiana State University Press, 2001), The Lake Michigan Mermaid with Anne-Marie Oomen (2019 Michigan Notable Book; Wayne State University Press, 2018), The Elusive Heroine: My Daughter Lost in Magritte (Cervena Barva Press, 2018), Talking Diamonds (New Issues Press, 2009), and Listen to the Landscape (Eerdmans Publishing, 2006). Her most recent poetry book, The Blue Divide, was published in 2021 by New Issues Press. And her next collection, Bone Country, is forthcoming in 2023.

Ms. Foster’s work has appeared in more than 350 magazines and journals such as The Georgia Review, New American Writing, Nimrod, North American Review, Quarterly West, Paterson Literary Review, Witness, and Verse Daily. Her poems have also been published in anthologies in the U.S. and Great Britain, and translated in Europe. Collaborations with visual artists, musicians, and composers have brought her poetry to new venues and audiences. It has been exhibited in museums and galleries, set to music, produced for the stage, and nominated for the Pushcart Prize.

Ms. Foster has won several Editor’s Choice Awards in the Allen Ginsberg Poetry Contest sponsored by The Poetry Center at Passaic County Community College and Paterson Literary Review. She has been honored with awards from the Arts Foundation of Michigan, ArtServe Michigan, the National Writer’s Voice, and the Academy of American Poets. She is the founder of the Contemporary Writers Series at Aquinas College, and was the first Poet Laureate of Grand Rapids, Michigan (serving from 2003-2005). In 2015, she was honored by the Dyer-Ives Foundation for her poetry and advocacy of the literary arts in Michigan. In the fall of 2019, she was a guest lecturer in contemporary American poetry and literature at the University of Bielsko-Biala in Poland. In the summer of 2022, Ms. Foster was awarded second place in the Fish Flash Fiction Prize, with publication of her story “On the Other Side of the World” in the Fish Anthology 2022. This international honor also included an invitation to read at the West Cork Literary Festival in Ireland.

Author’s website: www.lindanemecfoster.com

More on the Web: By, About, and Beyond

Featured Guest: Linda Nemec Foster interviewed by Tim Green for Rattlecast 157 (29 August 2022)

Personal Diary: Same Day, Same Month, Different Year, microfiction by Ms. Foster in Coal Hill Review (Issue 29, Spring 2022)

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