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MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
Issue 17: 29 Jan. 2023
Poem: 103 words
By Sarah Carleton


That guy has found the one quiet pocket 
at the back of the store and is filling it with twelve-bar 

guitar noodling that goes round and round till it bumps 
into itself, strum tripping over finger picking. 

Hunched on a stool, he whittles away 
the emptiness of the day. 

We only hear him when we’re standing close 
—his notes mostly swallowed by 

wall-to-wall carpeting—
but we know that if he ever stops, 

the downbeat mood once vented in chord progressions 
will settle into our marrow, 

making us mourn for instruments we’ve pawned 
and all the seasons done and gone.  

Sarah Carleton
Issue 17 (29 January 2023)

writes poetry, edits fiction, plays the banjo, and knits obsessively in Tampa, Florida. Her poems have appeared in numerous publications, including Nimrod, Tar River Poetry, MacQueen’s Quinterly, Pirene’s Fountain, Valparaiso Poetry Review, and New Ohio Review. Her first collection, Notes from the Girl Cave, was published in 2020 by Kelsay Books.

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