Dawn McGuire: Two Poems

Another Fragment 31

I open my refrigerator and find
the Stop Violence Coalition News
next to the figs and lemon curd.
I spread fear for my world on
five-grain bread from Whole Earth Foods.

Isn’t hope a sweet, fat fig?
The tiny fig wasp crawls to the center
through a narrow ostiole.
Her antennae snap, her wings
shear off in the journey. Wrapped

in darkness, she lays her necessary eggs,
else the worlds of Wasp and Fig expire.
            Is there no beauty without
misfortune? asked Baudelaire.

her body, in each sweet, hypnotic

Sycoscapter sp.


The kids overhear us talking in the kitchen
about the Village, the Bitter End on Bleeker,
Folk City, homeless teenage Dylan sleeping
on the floor in the back. The manager
was always kind like that.

Even now, in the kitchen, he’s helping
the girl band haul their amps into a taxi.
We can’t afford a taxi, but it’s 3 a.m.
and on the subway they’d be jacked.
My Gibson SB 350 isn’t even paid for.

Somewhere between Thompson and LaGuardia,
Jen wants a baby. Daisanne gets a writing gig
at the Village Voice. Phiale—
grey-eyed Phiale—who could give the hardest heart
an aching hard-on—goes home to her man in Detroit.

And I, some say demented, go back
to school to study axons.

The kids’ jaws by now have gone as slack
as the strings on the bass in the basement.
The smooth tune of their universe
just dropped from treble clef.
They’re churning, I can see it,

wondering whatever else
they never knew—
Come in, don’t hover
in the doorway—
I’ll always be yours.
I won’t leave my estate to Phiale.

(so careless her song;
      the eternity we spent          
             in her narrow archway)              


Author’s Note: Phiale appears in Juvenal’s Satire X.


Art Information

  • "Sycoscapter sp." © James Niland; Creative Commons license


Dawn McGuireDawn McGuire is a neurologist and award-winning author of The Aphasia Cafe (IFSF Publishers, San Francisco, 2012) and two other poetry collections, Sleeping in Africa and Hands On. Her poems have appeared in various literary magazines, anthologies, the Journal of the American Medical Association, and the Journal of the American Academy of Neurology. She won the 2011 Sarah Lawrence/Campbell Corner Poetry Prize for “poems that treat larger themes with lyric intensity" and a 2012 Troubadour International Poetry Prize.

She grew up in the Appalachian region of eastern Kentucky and now divides her time between the San Francisco Bay Area and Atlanta, Georgia, where she is on the faculty of the Neurosciences Institute of Morehouse School of Medicine.



The fig wasp image is a wonderful one - extraordinarily vivid - says the whole poem on its own level, and a great foil to the raucous marketing images in the first stanza.

I followed this back from my flickr stats page.
Love these poems ! I like it when people make me get interested in
things I did not consider much before.
Well done.

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