Featured Poet: Conor McCarthy

Remember a couple of days ago when I posted the poem by Patricia McMahon and mentioned her son’s poem would be featured on here soon?  Well, today’s the day!  Conor McCarthy, whose first published book Just Add One Chinese Sister, which he co-wrote with McMahon, came out while he was still in high school.  And no one who had ever been his English teacher was remotely surprised, because I’m not sure I can believe there was ever a time, since he could first hold a pencil, when Conor didn’t have fearsome writing chops.



Negative Capability


And then I ask myself how should I begin,
Neither sitting on the edge of an ale-stained bed
Nor in some gilded room choking on translucent arms.
They tell you to go back to the beginning of things
Which has always meant to me that ragged repository
Of the heart—but they neglect to mention
That the things which shape themselves there get all
Muddled and fall off the edge of the world on the way
To the mind or to the tongue or to your ear.
And so you’ll see me, sails unfurled to some far harbour,
Unfurled in silence, though whether because I will not say, or cannot
I am unsure.



Featured Poet: Patricia McMahon

Today’s featured poet is Patricia McMahon, who writes — aside from poetry — wonderful children’s literature, both fiction and non-fiction.  If you’d like to see her official bio on the Houghton Mifflin site, click here.  I first met her when her son Conor was in my 9th grade English class many moons ago, and I was delighted with her willingness to come and speak with my classes — more than once — about writing and being an author.  She’s someone I admire very much, and when my children were little, her non-fiction title Just Add One Chinese Sister (co-authored with Conor, in fact) was their favorite bedtime book.



Alchemy or
Perhaps a Love Poem

For my hot dog darling


Not to worry, honestly
my new found dear,
transmutation is not my normal line of work
nor would I be fool enough
to think there was ever a chance
that the gray from the sea shore
stone of yourself
could ever turn to gold.

No, this spell I’m weaving,
best say I’m giving a go,
this alchemist’s chant
has nothing to do with you.
I seek a different transformation
curious if the spell might even exist,
to turn this lover of soft metal
into a seeker after stone.