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MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
Issue 17: 29 Jan. 2023
Microfiction: 131 words
By Roberta Beary

In Praise of the Youngest


When the first tower fell, we knew you’d go. When you don’t call we ask each other, is this how it ends? You in a heap of rubble, the world mutilated beyond repair? Then days with no word while faces of bankers poster the city like lost dogs. On day five our phones ping. A news photo of you tending the dead. Ashes cling to your uniform like a shroud.


Later the city gives you a bunch of medals. You shove them in a drawer and retire early. At the party we tell you you’re still young. We say how proud. No one mentions the black butterflies mutating inside your lungs. Your raspy voice calls for round after round. When the bill comes, we pay it.

Roberta Beary
Issue 17 (29 January 2023)

grew up in Queens, New York and identifies as gender-fluid. They divide their time between USA and Ireland. Their honors include: Winner of Bridport Prize for Poetry, Best Microfiction 2019 & 2021, and The Best Small Fictions 2020 & 2022. Their work is featured in The New York Times, Rattle, Atticus Review, MacQueen’s Quinterly, and other publications. They are the longtime haibun editor for Modern Haiku.

Follow on Twitter: [at]shortpoemz

More on the Web: By, About, and Beyond

Featured Guest: Roberta Beary on Rattlecast 133 hosted by Tim Green, editor of Rattle poetry journal (YouTube, 28 February 2022)

Featured Author: Roberta Beary in MacQueen’s Quinterly (Issue 12, March 2022)

Roberta Beary, haiku poet and editor, on writing Haibun, interview with Mike Rehling, editor of Failed Haiku (YouTube, 8 February 2021)

Tiny Love Stories in The New York Times (8 January 2019); scroll five stories down the page for Roberta Beary’s “Now It’s All Fresh Fish” and her photograph of lobster traps in Clew Bay, Ireland.

The art of brevity, an interview by Ciara Moynihan in Mayo News (22 January 2019)

Lunch Break, a haibun by Beary in Rattle (#56, Summer 2017), Tribute to Poets with Mental Illness; includes audio (17 July 2017)

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