Mathew McGuirk

Barbed Wire Heart

Innocence Lost

How many fledglings glide on their mother’s first nudge
and how many jump too early?
How many are so small, with feathers
just wiped clean from inside their eggs
and pirouette to the ground,
and end up as another set of broken wings on green grass
or red guts on pavement?

We know the innocent fawn toddles just after birth
and first peeps escape chicks’ beaks in darkness,
but waiting on the tree line
or outside that chicken wire
are sharp teeth and narrowed eyes
ready to splash red against pure white;
even in Eden
innocence was lost to a twisting tongue.


Sometimes stepping off the back porch 
is cosmic, with my mind whirling 
as fast as the planets,
the stars above and the silence of the night;
the nothingness
and everythingness all at once.
Knowing that you’re seeing as much
in that moment 
as you ever will
and others might be looking 
at the same sky, 
but it might look a little different
to them. 

Looking up, 
stars a wash of glitter across perfect black, 
I wonder how many have ceased to exist
in their world. 
A beautiful wink tonight, 
but far away 
in a time unknown to me
they're bursting fireworks
or forever blackness.
I savor them as they are
in the perfect night sky. 

The New Outdoors

Squirrels snatch reflecting foil
to patch an air gap in their winter home,
and colorful birds weave nests of snipped wires
to house eggs they’re soon to lay,
while ants carry cut leaves
on top of a train rail
one after another
and ducks cackle cadences
resembling buzzing wires
crisscrossing ponds theyfrequent
and a skunk lies
on freshly painted yellow lines
trying to change his stripes,
while dynamite blasts ledge creating four more lanes
and saws the circumference of 200-year-old oaks
buzz down stands that were full grown long before
any of us were born
to create another conglomerate
or two-lane drive thru.

Matt McGuirk teaches and lives with his family in New Hampshire. BOTN 2021 nominee and regular contributor for Fevers of the Mind with words in 50+ lit mags, 100+ accepted pieces and a debut collection with Alien Buddha Press called Daydreams, Obsessions, Realities on Amazon. Twitter: @McguirkMatthew Instagram: @mcguirk_matthew.

Tip the Poet

Interview with Mathew McGuirk