Three Poems by Maureen Thorson


Even the dying waste time. They too admire
the lavish ways of the spendthrift—lighting cigars
with c-notes, too lazy to gather the diamonds
they let fall and sure, why not, a round
on me and let’s dance? Skinflints slinging dimes
at the poor don’t rate our sympathy; their slender charity—
a pale hand thrusting through a cracked door—
is nothing to them, or to us. If we must die, let’s do it richly,
in a froth of hours lost to solitaire, reading
a favorite book for the fiftieth time, naps, baking, staring
into space—space so hangdog in its vastness
only a miser wouldn’t rush to fill it, pour back
every wealth at once into the dream from which we came.

My Un-Nerudan Despair  

No shipwrecks, no ocean,
no flowering in the mud.

I’m not sure despair should feel so un-operatic.
Like a waiting room stocked
with four-year-old issues of GQ.

Just now, idly reaching out, I snuffed the life
from a gnat that’s haunted my office
for days, casually snapping

my fingers closed, flexing them open to find
the black stain of its body
pasted to my palm.

What’s the sound of one hand clapping?
I don’t remember

“the hour of the spell that blazed like a lighthouse.”
And whether “there is fire in your tombs,”
I don’t recall.

Instead, I dully dispense
death to the winged.

I grow mossy
in disinterested detention,
mortaring the days over myself like a wall.

A Personality Test

In the orchard, I catch
out of the corner
of my eye
a black rag
snapped tight
in the wind.

Turns out it’s
a field mouse
hauling ass
across the snowpack,
in and out of pocks

like a Marine recruit,
all go!go!go!
purely exposed
to the eyes of hawks,
foxes, whatever
wants to eat her,

which is everything.
As I watch,
she disappears
into divots, reappears,
slides, carroms, and slaloms,
a little dark clown.

I can’t help it—
I laugh at her pratfalls.
I laugh at her fear.
I laugh
as she runs
for her life.

Maureen Thorson is the author of two collections of poetry, My Resignation (Shearsman Books 2014) and Applies to Oranges (Ugly Duckling Presse 2011). A book of lyric essays, On Dreams, is forthcoming from Bloof Books in 2020. She lives in Falmouth, Maine. Visit her at

Image: “Look” by Evan Delgado

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