Mercedes Lawry

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Artwork by Gene McCormick

Play for Keeps

Dice down the alley,
where you dodging, deep
in the well, like hell
the boys forget who blinked.
Don’t no circus come this way,
no clowns, and if they do,
they don’t come out.
Dig in your pocket
at the wrong moment, you find
a slice of yourself drifting
into that oily patch.
Tell it true here, you might
come out a winner, able
to walk, talk and sit down
to dinner with your sweet-mouth mama.


The Drawer

The terrible winter you could not be reached.
Blue ice and no reflection in frost.
I grew weary and slept, pondering
the contingencies of forever.

I was shivering under four blankets.
Heat was money. I was less sure of anything
but the jays on the roof. Tears were only memory
and I could not abide music.

Downstairs, a drawer with all of your knives:
the pearl-handled, the fillets, one etched with a bear.
They’re still in the drawer, those knives,
still in the dark aside.


Germ Theory

has no ribbons.

No disease
in a far-off country
sprouts wings or grace.

Squalor has no spine,
slithers and moans.

Negative capability
hears no governor,
no sighs.


Mercedes Lawry has published poetry in such journals as Poetry, Nimrod, Poetry East, Salamander and Saint Ann’s Review, as well as two chapbooks.  She’s also published fiction, humor and essays, and stories and poems for children. She lives in Seattle.