In the early days of the pandemic, counting our dead, our lives unfold like a movie in which we race against time to find enough ventilators and masks, enough sanitizer, a vaccine, or failing that, the means to take our friends and loved ones to Mars, along with anyone else we just like, beginning with the cashier at the Super Green Market who always gets me bread so fresh it’s steaming. And Pam who cuts my hair, and my daughter’s track coach with his positive race mantras (strong woman! strong woman!) and my son’s snowboarder friends, even the one with the most tattoos I’ve ever seen on a single person, who’s in rehab, because I think he has a kind heart. Which I wish I could say about all people on Earth, but I saw a lady grab a bag of frozen chicken right out of another lady’s hands at Meijer, the night before we were ordered to shelter in place. But the people I choose will want to bring everyone they love, our numbers growing like a ring from a pebble thrown into the ocean. And we can’t help taking along the seeds of this virus which brought us to this unprecedented moment today. And even though I’ve just remembered Mars is an inhospitable planet where Matt Damon spent a good part of his movie coaxing one puny seedling to grow, Groupon says land’s available, whether or not we arrive trembling, clutching our printed-out certificates like white flags, ready to claim a few dusty, cratered acres for our calm little cabins and vegetable gardens beneath a different sky, which is pinkish red, red as sunset, at any time of day.
is the author of four books of prose poems and three chapbooks, most recently Instructions for My Imposter (Press 53) and Nineteen Letters (BatCat Press). She is also the author of Heart in a Jar (White Pine Press, 2017), Stay (Press 53, 2015), October Again (Burnside Review Press, 2012), and Whatever Shines (White Pine Press, 2001). In 2011, Parlor Press published We’ll See, a book of her translations of contemporary French poet Georges Godeau’s prose poems.
Her poems, prose poems, and translations have appeared in more than 50 literary venues, including among others: Boston Review, Copper Nickel, Crazyhorse, December, Denver Quarterly, Epoch, Field, Glassworks, Indiana Review, Miramar, Ploughshares, Prairie Schooner, Quiddity, Quarterly West, Rhino, Seneca Review, Sweet, The Antioch Review, The Laurel Review, West Branch, and Willow Springs—and in these anthologies published by White Pine Press: Nothing to Declare: A Guide to the Flash Sequence (2016), The Best of the Prose Poem: An International Journal (2000), The House of Your Dream: An International Collection of Prose Poetry (2008), and The Party Train: A Collection of North American Prose Poetry (1996).
Ms. McGookey has received grants from the Irving S. Gilmore Foundation, the Arts Fund of Kalamazoo County, the Sustainable Arts Foundation (2014), and the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs. She has taught creative writing at Hope College, Interlochen Arts Academy, and Western Michigan University.
⚡ “Softball-Sized Eyeball Washes Up on Florida Beach”:
The Proetic Vision of Kathleen McGookey, Clare MacQueen’s review
of Instructions for My Imposter in KYSO Flash (Issue 12,