M Review Fountain Art Marylhurst University Journal of Literary and Visual Art
m reviewpoetry — instants


by Catherine McGuire

The sidewalk shops unfold their goods,
bright trinkets piled on iron stands.
Fresh flowers, rushed to florid bloom
to grab the notice of the man
in linen suit and leather case
who pauses, touches one or two,
then shakes his head and goes — too pressed
to even stay and choose.

In kiosks, headlines overlap
their three-word news bites, honed to catch
the jaded eye, impress with pab-
lum, lurid photos that we pitch
into the mental trash heap as
soon as we move on. All facts
are market-valued, dreams are cheap,
compiled like so much bric-a-brac.

The checkout stall is lined with trash —
lo-cal stories to be splurged
on with the candy — just a flash
sensation, boredom, then the urge
to gobble more. It's not tasted,
or digested — power bars,
and yoplait squeezed-out breakfasts:
high tech paste in cans and jars.

There are kits for making handicrafts —
apprenticeship so impatient —
the brain-dead scion of the graft
merging instant onto ancient.
Just follow outlines — 1,2,3 —
in order to create a clone:
a one-of-a-kind, unique copy
just like the ones that others own.

For instant poems, just break a line
an arbitrary way, and pour
opinions on a page. Assign
a title — pouf! A verse, or
something seeming; no need
to fashion it or fuss out rhyme —
from all constraints we're freed;
and besides, we don't have the time.

This onslaught fostered by our greed
now chokes us with the pointless dross;
half-drowned in our affluency,
clutching our golden albatross,
we're instant voters, sound-bite minds,
no time to study, or separate
persuasions poisonous from benign
we grab and lock the floodgate.

Top of page.


Catherine McGuire of Portland, Oregon

Catherine McGuire is a writer, artist and art therapist who strongly believes in the healing power of creativity. Her poetry is informed by her art, her work with others and by living in a cohousing community in Portland, Oregon. She has been writing poetry for over 40 years and has published more than 70 poems, including some in M Review, TapjoE, Fireweed, the Portland Lights anthology, and the Raising Our Voices anthology. She is a board member of the Oregon State Poetry Association.