Selected Poems by Selena McCracken

The Storm

I wonder how many people are homeless
because suddenly they had no money
and when they had no money
they were charged a lot more money.
Twenty dollar ticket
for not giving the meter a quarter.
The whole car impounded if they couldn't
renew their registration,
late fees if they can't pay
by a certain date
and always in the background,
a rising interest rate.
How many of Eve's children
are destitute in this system
that lends all foundational support
to money and not people.
Why don't they ask for help?
why don't they just work harder?
Well, because working harder
leaves no time to ask for help.
They only have time to get back to work
(sorry officer, sorry professor),
that they might make someone else
some money,
while their debt becomes a canyon
dividing them from humanity,
It takes money to make money,
it costs money to have none.
How many people are judged,
mocked, banned from normalcy, or joy
because of this downward spiral.
How many people like me
live like slaves
with everyone else telling us
to smile. 


Do you know that in the morning
I love each and every one of you?
The way you wake slowly on Saturdays,
and by noon, stand under the sun
pretending the wind could blow you away.
You're industrious, I see you,
well-dressed, jogging, walking dogs,
we can't admit it, but we
live together.
A hundred holes in a hobbit hill,
a thousand rabbits in a sprawled out warren,
so snug after breakfast,
ready to stroll and say hello.
Do you know that if this were a picture,
I would freeze all time before and after?
I would file us away under Maroon (Majon),
and only our messengers could come looking
to join our ambitious dereliction,
until finally the whole world was
pulled into this void, chanting,
"No Time! Only Saturday!"
We live together.
Let us know love for one another
as we walk out to the porch
to greet the gift of morning. 

Trains of the Heart Land

This is the sound of a train moving
interlocking over. run.
fertilization headaches abound
bugs rule this place
accept it.
kid-with-can man
holy dirty woman child
melange of motherfreakload
drink jug water for days.
At the yard, heart sparks,
heavy dark. Combustible
reverb in the iron bulge
begot beatboxing
from the mouths of babes.
On the roof on second
from the direction of the dark tower
I still hear steel singing
the track-switch screeching
my uncle's ghost riding pilot
with strangelovebombs.
To memories of small town,
where the song of the locomotive
on the breeze, swaying curtains...
As if someone was going somewhere.
Or returning. 


"What's goin on?
What's goin on, you ask.
People talkin bout wakin up now
like a brand new baby
with fresh eyes to see
not like Timothy Leary
droppin out just because he can
talkin about
stayin woke
as the sun.
Say I can never wake to that reality.
Tellin me there's somethin that I can't see?
It's not possible
not for me...
and that's the whoooole point.
When I look into the glittering tempest of jazz
And she tells me she is the every beautiful thing
I dehumanize.
I die inside.
She talks about bombs and
That stuff is scary.
I romanticize death when I lie.
What she's tellin me is true life.
I have to hand it over.
I have to carry water."

Can’t Keep

Of tadpoles and caterpillars…
My sister was in this chrysalis, this shell
Trying to change, trying to swim
She looked upon the leaping frogs
And the flitting butterflies and said, “one day.”
But life is fleeting
And she was but a delicate, wounded survivor
Fighting to be free of an incurable disease
And traumatic memories.
She struggled, and wriggled, and writhed
In her cocoon.
With a heart big enough to save the world
She leapt from her shell too soon.
Changing is the hardest thing to do
Becoming the unknown
But if happiness ever found you
My sister took it as her own.
And now immeasurable beauty abounds
From the memory of her loving spirit.
Beauty of the sun rising again
That we might yet see the gift.
The beauty of frogs singing
Butterflies preening brand new wings
The beauty of rebirth,
For such a powerful light that once was hidden
Now flows forth over new life


Teach got me runnin around
lookin for breakdowns
and I’ll get credit
but I’m sketchy
because I’m standin right here.
The next one might just
shut me down.
Things in the car work, and don’t
Things in the family work, and don’t
Things in the books work, and don’t
So why am I so imbalanced?
Do I have a gift to get through?
Is it a gift I can’t give you?
I have a few friends who care
and they remind me to poet.
My work is my work is my work and I know it,
but these doors bulging already.
Can’t be no floods in this vault!
The demise of my files can’t be my fault,
I gotta push
I gotta move
I gotta be the one do whatever it is
I gotta do
and more besides
I can’t just poet
with my time…
lookin at this dime, like
lying near my side
looking back, like
Ok, we have to take a minute
without mercy,
we have to beg this dopamine
to come through
and make human being
feel cool again
I see you dime
I hear you sister
Let me just sit down
and listen
to different versions convergent
in the still of the crossroads
Problem definition – pain.
No wonder.
Just the bolts that hold reality.
Progress evaluation – vain.
Just ebbing and flowing along
and writing
Solution – one thing that can’t hurt.

Maybe I should
Maybe I should tell someone
but I can't
I can't even begin to explain
the voices in their voices in the way they yell at God
through the stucco ceiling
I'm a man! I'm a woman! I'm your child!
Don't you see me down here
in hell!
the way they pack up all their tears
and head here instantly to help me
and any other crack dwellers
getting stomped on in the hustle
a hundred of disability money here
sixty hours of math tutoring there
with phantom leather restraints and the echoing memory
of screaming for a nurse, any nurse, please!
Shadows of tyrants haunting the corridors
of neurotransmission,
ethereal visionary versions drawing forth
deprived, de-activated angels
out of their assembly lines into
such precise calculations
and it's all true
aliens, conspiracies, the holy spirit
as real as my hand on the telephone
behind the door in a dark room, sweating
the condensation from my desperate whispers,
"Uh huh. I believe you. Lay down and hush now."
Which never has worked, but I commit myself
and for the love I bare thee, I hold it not misfortune,
but an honor for this lesson
in the tangible divinity, in being human,
they with one tongue, in apocrypha
scribbling sacred sharpie syllables
on otherwise witless kitchen walls
while hollow hipsters sit around tiny fires
talking about "psychos", saying, "I could name a few."
At such times, I envy emotional abandon
but someone has to protect them when
the neighbors call the cops because
they pray out loud.
someone has to speak more
politely for them.
Maybe I will.


All keys shall now be named
public domain.

Beauty unfolding is the answer.
In every moment, a small change
spiraling out slowly
like a rose blooming
in orbit romance with the sun

One hundred years we could sweeten
and shine in the Summer
Or one hundred years we could let
the urgency of death bend our spines
and paint our petals with shadows
as we become what we behold.

The magic of sunrise is suspended
inside each tight new bud
burning purely
the warm glow of love
exploding in secret gardens
charmed with cultivated innocence
nymphs march forth in Spring
fencing pricks at the king

stronger every season
through the impact of pests and floods
and damn-near-dead neglect,
until they have stems like stone pillars
that refuse to sustain any caliber of parasite,
until the branches have grown so abundant
they happily absorb heavy flooding.
It doesn't drought around me.
I flourish in defiance of my disease.

As I have been freely given
by no one but Nature herself
I freely thrive to fulfill
what she expects of me,
to survive beautifully.