"Pebble" and "Pencil Test"


"I look for her shape and his hand.”
-Patricia J. Williams

she said to take her name
my mouth says it sounds
they way I smack each
syllable loose
            like that
as if I had skin
in the


I’ve held her between
my tongue and teeth so long
in a slow saliva bath like that
a pebble nursed through the desert
             as an illusion
of a drink I can’t
shape a phrase without
her ghost throbbing


she left me with this jungle
lot to cut
as if to say good
            luck to you and your dimpled suit
I’m still slumping
seersuckered after Labor
face full of sour grapes
fattened off the low strange
hanging fruit

who’s your crucible?



Pencil Test

“My whole surface is turned toward you,
all my insides turned away.”
-Wislawa Szymborksa

tatter bomb
fee nominal
pulls the plug out and
drops it on the carpet

she calls me a
            a sex pest
says perhaps I’m just
            a squash-buckler
but I need to stop
          to b-lack
by occupying her
middle passage

says I should perhaps
examine my pleasure’s
proximity to black
calls these language acts

says from the way
I blues bait and drop
into minstrel speak
it’s like I’m steady running
a pencil through her hair

to her
          lantic longing

I proceed in these ancient ways
race bait into dinner time
the late Lee Atwater
on lead guitar
fingers herstorical stab wound
all up and down the sunset

I’m not fit for finishing this song tonight
to divine a Nother Wordly melody
or even to retool this plastic menagerie
but as I fumble with my
master’s toolbox
Konka’s kicking corners
toeing for a load-bearing dream

I hold this evening
like a slab of mango between
my teeth
squeeze it until these
gums itch

I’m sick I’m
sick I’m sick



Spree MacDonald's chapbook, Milksop Codicil, won the Sanger-Stewart Prize and was published by Slapering Hol Press in 2017. His poetry has been a finalist for the Anhinga Press Rick Campbell Chapbook Prize, a semi-finalist for the Philip Levine Prize in Poetry, and twice nominated for a Pushcart Prize. He can be found online at spreemacdonald.com.

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