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Heather Shaw

Heather Shawıs recent work appears in Gumball, Rhino, Switched-on Gutenberg and Aileron. She lives in northern Michigan on a thin strip of sand between two lakes.


Sweet Chetties

They pound in the stakes to advertise
seasonal fruit at the roadside stand. All
the Month of July Sweet Chetties for Sale.

The extended serifs are an accident al dente.
Oh, the corner of my eye. What are those sweet
chetties? Tiny pooches, bonbons, peachy nipples,

for they cannot be your porcelain endearments
and I am thin air to telephone smooches
arranged quadrilinear on linoleum countertops:

These rolling horizon hills of bearing fruit:
Your explicit love. Nope, sweet chetties are juicy
like a back seat, squeamish as moles. Undivined

insulin injection desire. My darling letıs gorge
on whiff, hint, innuendo and tonight weıll rip
open and steam like fresh baked bread.

Previously Published in Undressed. 

Heather Shaw


She heaves her weight in water from the river well
red pump spigot between two houses --scuttlebutt
of chickens-- and he will empty the last
of his drink into the simple machines
which hang by their throats from the rafters.

Even the child will climb a chair to pour from a teacup
into concave stone or baked clay jug the water which finds
its own way per granite jasper silicon polished bone
corridor of ancestors thumbprint trail of necessity pressure want

emerging one fathomless drop at a time, more deeply blue
than what we call Œskyı or Œfieldı or Œredı in our own language,
clear all the way to where fishes rainbow among the shadow
limbs of ancient oaks and a fist is so much more than a fist.

Heather Shaw

The Boatyard

The car broke down on the way to Suttons Bay.

It didnıt really break down.
There just wasnıt enough pressure
to keep it going any
longer and we let it drift
into the harbor parking lot.

The sail and motor boats were wrapped
in plastic tarps to keep out snow and highway

In a poem, our words would haunt
the windshield. Or a lion
would turn to look at us from halfway
across a field.

But the car didnıt really break
down and we are without
imagination, lacking
courage, bereft, loveless.

Except for the torn cocoons of summer boats,
the landscape is featureless, dingy
with insipid detail.You and I
facing the gray lake that eats everything.

Heather Shaw

Six Blackbirds
---what some young men in New England
were required to produce before marriage

In March the red-winged blackbirds
sing in the cattails, oh-cah-ree,
chortle-dee; tseer, tseer.

    The voices live outside my head,
    percussion and chorus. My thoughts
    are a thin string of plucked gut.

Polygynous blackbird. He shrugs
his epaulets. He is a singing head,
two scarlet banners and a penis.

    One string, one note. The sound
    becomes a gray lake if I hike a finger
    north / south and apply pressure.

The females hasten and pick, mistaken
for house sparrows. Unremarkably,
they build the nests

    The gray lake lies in a chasm
    and what is cast in comes to rest layer
    upon layer, the pressure of discard.

of milkweed fiber, cattail felt, a shoelace,
sedge, and Zinziıs hair. There will be four
eggs protected by inscrutable design.

    So what is choice about the red walls
    rising and sloughing off, the ley line
    of water and moon that flattens me,

The males crusade the marshes, stalk
the mink, the coon, crow, grackle, the red-
winged tigers, oh glorious sword defending.

    and pins me to a season, a revolution,
    a phase. I lick my childrenıs faces
    and their features appear in the mirror.

Spring to solitude and wretched cedar, tamarack,
a darker night beneath the wing of hemlock,
devouring the pause between flights.

    Insatiable static between accusations,
    a bedspread of regret, winking glass
    of remorse, a sheet that cracks like thunder.

But they will rise out of the swamp for harvest,
gleaning. They will blacken the pear tree
and their clouds flurry above the broken corn.

Heather Shaw


My daughter brought home a fish from carnival
and put it in a bowl with green pebbles
and two planet earth marbles.
A creature like a minnow, shy
and rippling invisible.
The children have lost interest.
When I remember, I feed it
flake by flake. 
I thought the fish might need
a companion and in my daughterıs
room I found a gilt-framed mirror
to tilt behind the bowl.
The creature now lives before a grotto. Certainly,
it haunts the hard entrance
to its phantom cave. The sea
lies beyond in half-heard connections.
The rest of the island with berries, fresh
springs, a shimmering and devoted angel.

Heather Shaw

The Infinite Imagination of God

She is still in the garden that is her home on top of the mountain.
Gates and arches, clasps and a silver chain. That path leads
to a yellow kitchen and a cat. The green one crosses a shrill river.
There is the way of the glittering stone wall. And a murky allée
where voices hang like pretty rags on the branches. Emerald ruby.
Citron sapphire. This is good, she says. Some day
I shall be well caught, like a fish in a jar.

Heather Shaw