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MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
Issue 23: 28 April 2024
Prose Poem: 221 words
By Jessica Purdy

El Morocco, New York

—After the photograph by Garry Winogrand, 1955*

The photo might be titled Hysterical Cackle. Or maybe Frantic Manic. The black and white focus is on the woman with a huge smile showing her teeth and lips spread back over her gums. It’s an expression of over-joyous mad horror—her nose is scrunched and her eyes look directly at the man’s face. She is touching his back and we see only that he is looking away from her face. Her cheeks and nose contort around her open-mouthed laughter. A mouth that once breast-fed. The teeth which could sink into his jugular with her longing. Is she deranged and predatory? Is she in love? How much does she hate herself? A moment caught that otherwise would go unnoticed. She could eat him with her eyes. But we know that he’s used to being wanted. His suit fits his chest in a way that says he doesn’t want her but oh, he makes her laugh. The back of his head says he’s done this before. This jokester mad man looking at another woman. Her fingers like claws. The nails fleshy and pointed into the shadowy abyss of his cold shoulder. In the next frame I’ve created in my mind, his blood runs black as the lipstick smeared on her fangs.



Publisher’s Note:

El Morocco, New York (gelatin silver print, 1955) by American street photographer Garry Winogrand (1928-1984) is housed in the Department of Photographs at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Image may be viewed online (link retrieved on 12 April 2024):

Jessica Purdy
Issue 23 (April 2024)

holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Emerson College. Her poems and microfiction have appeared in The Ekphrastic Review, Gargoyle, Gone Lawn, Litro, MacQueen’s Quinterly, The Night Heron Barks, ONE ART, Radar, and numerous others. Her books Starland (2017) and Sleep in a Strange House (2018) were both released by Nixes Mate Books.

Her recent chapbooks include You’re Never the Same: Ekphrastic Poems (Seven Kitchens Press, 2023); and The Adorable Knife (Grey Book Press, 2023), poems based on dollhouse-scale dioramas by forensic scientist Frances Glessner Lee which were collected in Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death and used to train homicide investigators.

For a longer list of other publications, plus a portfolio excerpted from The Adorable Knife and published by Buttonhook Press in 2022, Murder in the House: The “Nutshells” of Frances Glessner Lee, visit the author’s website:


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