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MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
Issue 8: June 2021
Poetry: 47 words
51 words
53 words
By Erin Murphy

Three Demi-Sonnets: Taxonomies

Taxonomy of Needles
The glint of silver in the haystack. 
The eye through which you try to fit 
a camel. Thread and mended jeans. 
Veins and vaccines. One needle heals—
another numbs. The track marks 
on your sister’s arms: calligraphy 
of bird claws, trail of stale breadcrumbs.


Taxonomy of Churning
The ocean at night: a vast moonlit loom 
weaving blue froth. The Delta Queen’s 
sternwheel muscling through the Mississippi. 
Butter on the prairie, Ma teaching Laura 
to plunge the dash in stiffening cream. 
Voices boiling over on the TV news, so many 
words unleashed from what they mean.


Taxonomy of Full Disclosures
Fine print in bank loans. Side effects 
in drug ads. Your asset to debt ratio, 
the last forbidden food you had. 
The number of times you masturbated 
this week. A secret glove compartment 
gun. Four true words I could say 
to make you cry, five to make you run.



Publisher’s Note:

The poems above are from a series of demi-sonnets, a seven-line form devised by Erin Murphy.

Erin Murphy’s
Issue 8, June 2021

eighth book of poems, Human Resources, is forthcoming from Salmon Poetry. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in such journals as The Georgia Review, Southern Poetry Review, North American Review, Glass, and Women’s Studies Quarterly. Her awards include The Normal School Poetry Prize, the Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Prize, and a Best of the Net award. She is editor of three anthologies from the University of Nebraska Press and SUNY Press and serves as Poetry Editor of The Summerset Review. She is Professor of English and Creative Writing at Penn State Altoona.

Author’s website: www.erin-murphy.com

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