3 Poems by Dawn Corrigan

Failed Romance
There is a man. Let’s call him D.

There is a woman. Let’s call her D., too.

D. wants D. to feel sympathy for him.

D. is willing, in theory, to feel sympathy for almost anybody, but if you want to move D., you should try to be colder. (As Chekhov might say.)

In other words: the more self-pity you express, the less sympathetic D. feels.

D. expresses a lot of self-pity. This has the effect of making D. feel contempt instead of sympathy.

Therefore, D. tries to steer D. toward less self-pitying modes of expression, the better to feel sympathy for D.

D. finds this steering behavior of D.’s controlling. D. does not want to change modes of expression, and insists that D. should feel sympathy anyway.

But D. does not.

Before the Storm
Today at 6:09
fog erased the horizon line

and I toasted your sturdy house,
the gulls ruffled like chickens,

the four mallards walking the shore.
I passed a man with a goal:

to reach his destination and survive.
Is that another squall

moving in from the east?
he asked.

Don't worry about it, I said.
They can’t get us

where we’re going,
land of graceful sea birds.

is filled with space and light and Robert’s Totally Different Truck Stop, the Eustace Drive-Thru Donut Shop, and the No Hope Ranch: Scrub Cows and Bitter Woods.

At night the chicken houses glow with artificial daylight like offices where secretaries work late.

The radio preacher says, I just love you so much and there’s nothing you can do about it.

In Hamilton cemetery a group of unmarked graves belongs to the wedding guests of Priscilla. Daughter of a Regulator, she spurned her Moderator beau, who arranged to have the wedding cake laced with arsenic. Everyone who had a slice died.

One Regulator, Watt Moorman, liked dancing and playing tricks on ministers. He invited a preacher into the woods and persuaded him, with tears and shouts, he’d been converted; then pulled a Bowie knife, tapped out a rhythm on his thighs, and made the old man dance until sweat ran into his eyes, replacing his tears of joy.

Dancing Methodism, Watt called it.

Dawn Corrigan's poetry and prose have appeared in a number of print and online journals, with work forthcoming from Dogzplot, Slipstream, WORK Literary Magazine, Right Hand Pointing, Wisdom Crieth Without, and The Milo Review. Her debut novel, an environmental mystery called Mitigating Circumstances, was published by Five Star/Cengage in January 2014. She lives in Gulf Breeze, Florida.