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Poetry Corner | To Muck And Muck And Muck

What thoughts and images does this poem evoke for you?

Bird In Flight

To Muck and Muck and Muck

Here I am yet again, seeking

something more, something

else in another country.

Transformation, aren’t you

a fist-sized bird? All claws

and low-yield clutches. You are

also this stew of the overused

Ganges, where we ride in a boat,

watch bodies burn on shore.

Last to go is the rib cage.

Sometimes, that even refuses

the flame. No matter. Belief

dictates that everyone cremated

on this sacred shore goes

to heaven, whatever the sin.

No wonder air is so thick.

Dusk now, and floating cups

of candles in bamboo cradles

outrun our boat, bobble down

this holy river science deems

septic: long emptied of oxygen,

toxic to touch. A mother dips

her hand into the waste. Drink,

my love. Drink, she demands

of her child, limp on her lap.


Charlotte Pence’s first full-length poetry collection, Spike, will be released by Black Lawrence Press in 2014. A professor of English and creative writing at Eastern Illinois University, she is also the author of two award-winning poetry chapbooks and the editor of The Poetics of American Song Lyrics (University Press of Mississippi, 2012).

Photo Credit:Creative Commons License Bird In Flight by Andy Doyle is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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About Tomi Wiley (38 Articles)
Tomi L. Wiley is the Poetry and Short Fiction Editor for Sweatpants & She has written and edited for media including Southern Living and Oxford American magazines, has been published in the literary anthologies Milk & Ink: a Mosaic of Motherhood, Telling Tales, Maypop and the Southeast Review, has coordinated panels for the Southern Festival of Books, spoken on the creative writing process at Middle Tennessee State University and the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and is a past president of the Tennessee Writers Alliance. She lives in Knoxville, where she is writing her first novel with the help of lots of wine, goat cheese and the Barefoot Contessa.

1 Comment on Poetry Corner | To Muck And Muck And Muck

  1. Rebecca Napier-Brown // March 4, 2014 at 2:28 pm // Reply

    Charlotte Pence is a talented poet. I always enjoy her stuff.
    –Rebecca Napier-Brown

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