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MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
Issue 22: 4 Feb. 2024
Poem: 256 words
By Tina Barry

Worried Wool

She tells her husband that she never tried drugs, 
doesn’t mention the single tab of acid, and how her words 
had hovered in the dark like jittering can-can girls. 
Since then, no streams of shimmering lights. No 
meaningful messages from spirit animals. 
It was only one time, she thinks. 
Why upset him? 

Sororities weren’t her thing, but once she discovered 
the campus witches, she knew she’d found her people. The brew 
they concocted—chicken broth, hot sauce, and because no one 
knew where to find eye of newt, ground eyeshadow—
was supposed to ward off evil. She carried the liquid 
everywhere, but dark parking lots 
still scared her. 

She sees her late mother constantly, glimpses her broad 
shoulders, round-nosed profile in stores, spots her smile 
outlined in blueberries on top of a scone. At night, 
her mother croons lullabies in a Bronx baritone, 
wafts clouds of perfume—roses and moss, 
wilts daisies 
to annoy her. 

The day after his wife’s accident, a man leaves the hospital 
and goes to Starbucks, where he screams at the barista 
that the froth on his mochaccino isn’t frothy enough. 
He scoffs at the heart she swirls in the foam 
of the free latte too. Customers are baffled 
when he cries. 

Slamming from the farm, the sheep flees, hooves hard 
against ground, bleating into the mountains. Who 
in their weariness left the gate unhinged? 
Six years later, a hunter happens on sixty pounds 
of worried wool, an impenetrable cloud 
no wolf could bite through. 
Tina Barry’s
Issue 22 (February 2024)

poetry and short fiction can be found in American Poetry Journal, Gone Lawn, Gyroscope Review, MacQueen’s Quinterly, Maryland Literary Review, Nasty Women Poets anthology, ONE ART, Rattle, South Florida Poetry Journal, Sky Island Journal, The Best Small Fictions 2020 (spotlighted story) and TBSF 2016, The Fourth River, trampset, Verse Daily, and elsewhere. She is a three-time Pushcart Prize nominee and has several Best of the Net and Best Microfiction nods. Tina is a teaching artist at The Poetry Barn and Writers.com.

Author’s website: TinaBarryWriter.com

More on the Web: By, About, and Beyond

Inside the amazing brains of Laura Rodley, Tina Barry, & Robert Slais by Big Table Publishing in Boston Literary Magazine (February 2023); includes Tina’s poem “Lilies”

Beautiful Raft: An Interview with Tina Barry by Hannah Grieco in Empty Mirror (28 February 2020)

“A Friend’s Daughter Dies” by Tina Barry in American Poetry Journal (Issue 14, Summer 2017)

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