Monday May 27

McFeeMichael Michael McFee has published fourteen books, most recently a collection of poetry, That Was Oasis (Carnegie Mellon UP, 2012), a chapbook of one-line poems, The Smallest Talk (Bull City Press, 2007), and a collection of prose, The Napkin Manuscripts: Selected Essays and an Interview (U of Tennessee P, 2006). New poems and essays have appeared or are due soon in Southern Review, Shenandoah, Hudson Review, Tar River Poetry, Southern Cultures, and Edible Piedmont. He has taught in the Creative Writing Program at UNC-Chapel Hill for several decades.


Look, whoever you are, please stop sending me
these glowing ghostly transparent messages
from the corner of my eye and edge of my sight,
the blurred smoky signals drifting right to left,
the clouds that don’t cohere into animal shapes,
the cobwebs with no letters woven into them:
maybe you’re just trying to brighten my outlook
with anti-shadows, halos, auras, motes of glory,
I wish I could enjoy the holy show but all I see
is the nebulous aftermath of fireworks floating
down after the grand finale, or cold fog crossing
a ridge as the sun sets behind it for the last time,
or brittle veils being drawn again and again until
the curtain calls are over and the house lights doused.


Little star,
shine darkly
in the sky
northeast of
word or words
that need some
at the foot
of the page,
that pale pool
where your crisp
shines darkly,
little star.


What a treat, to stay up until sign-off
back when TV stations left the air
every night, sleeping like us, resting a while
until sign-on early the next morning
though technically the same since sign-off
happened after midnight, after Carson
or the late or late-late movie, when my parents
had already started dreaming on the sofa
and I sat very very still waiting for sign-off
to begin at last, for that resonant voice
to say in its well-pleased and reassuring tone
“This concludes another broadcast day”
before the required technological sign-off,
aural and visual watts and megaherzes,
followed by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir
smoothly singing our national anthem
over my absolute favorite part of sign-off,
a montage of local valleys and rivers
and fighter jets flying in pinpoint formation
and autumn sunset behind Mt. Pisgah
and—huge, like everything during sign-off—
the Star-Spangled Banner in stiff wind,
her stripes gallantly streaming and snapping,
the last thing seen over the closing notes
before blankness was aired: another sign-off
was over, nothing left to do but sleep
thanks to that longed-for mesmerizing static
whose white noise prayer ended my day.