Sunday Jun 23

McDougallJo Jo McDougall has published five books of poetry and a memoir, Daddy's Money.  The University of Arkansas Press published her collected poems, In the Home of the Famous Dead, in 2015.  A book of new poems is slated for publication in 2016 by Tavern Books.  She has received awards from the Readers Digest/DeWitt Wallace Foundation, the Academy of American Poets, the Arkansas Arts Council, and the Porter Prize Foundation of Arkansas as well as fellowships from the MacDowell Colony.  She has been inducted into the Arkansas Writers Hall of Fame.  Co-director of the creative writing program at Pittsburg State University, she lived for many years in the Midwest.  A native of the Arkansas delta, she now resides in Little Rock. Her website can be found here.

The Art of Travel


Don’t bother me now,
old losses—
I’m climbing the steps of Notre Dame,
swimming through stone,
admiring the backs of gargoyles,
believing Paris.


In this elegant hotel,
under the mirrored chandeliers,
everyone is beautiful, and unfamiliar.

Unpacking in my room,
I place my favorite photograph
beside the table lamp I’ve turned just so,

realign the deep, white pillows,
making myself at home,
debasing every miracle.


These—kitchen light, yellow as distance;
rivets in moonlight;
scalloped hinge on a New England door;
yellow door;
swamp, green with heat;
snake, turtle, eye;
man bending over a newspaper;
taken by silence, that netherworld,
weightless as a willow leaf.

The Visit

The house I grew up in, abandoned for decades,
has taken a mask of lecherous brush and trees.
The dogs of death and pestilence keep me out,
fire shooting from their mouths.

Have I lived this long
only to confront a myth?
Was I not young here?
Did not boys from neighboring farms
come around?
Was there not always a cat
purring the sun to sleep in a window?

Touching the wooden gate for reassurance,
I encounter stone.