Four Poems • David McNaron


Kids prospective mates will flee,
alimony, ex-wives and husbands—

and more, the traces, the scars
they leave. As if we

were servicing it,
like debt. Indentured servants

of the emotional world.
When all we really want is

to start anew, open to trusting
once again, with more ahead

of us than behind. The way a 20-year old
enters his first apartment, looking

happily, with anticipation,
at those blank white walls.

And maybe no baggage is a kind of
baggage too. Still on the sidelines?

Where’s the gain—a jersey
that’s clean at the end of the game.


My Parents’ Bed

Lying here where I began
I suddenly see
the world

from their
vantage point.

by the antique space—
looking out
over the horizon

of responsibilities.
Trying to fall asleep I think
how they must

have worried:
House secure?
Bills paid? Kids safe?

This frame’s too small
for me, and far
too big to fill.

Sleigh for a journey ending
precisely where
it began.


Mrs. Burson’s Private Christian First Grade

We learned phonics, art, and the Blood of the Lamb.
The UR Sisters, E-R, U-R, and I-R: Sue Bee Honey

squeeze bottles with small yellow caps.
Nicholas, an enormous German Shepard,

mostly slept. The hamsters, unfortunately,
ate their babies, which looked like red wet thumbs.

Mrs. Burson would get on to me for saying dern,
learned from Daddy. When I acted badly,

according to her lights, she’d say ‘There’s a little demon
on your shoulder!’ My pastel of Calvary

was praised. I sanded the work with tissue. The stones
of the cave were smooth, Christ’s blood trickled down the hill.

Her son, Jack, who was in advertising,
was nearly killed by a dog food truck

that crossed into his lane coming over a viaduct.
Everything was God’s will. He worked his mysterious way,

turning me into an atheist.
Hers was the prettiest house around.

We met in the finished basement.
We made nice friends. Billy Amari and I

once pushed kids over the woodpile.
Both his parents died within a year,

his father washing up at his feet,
drowned, at Panama City Beach.

I need a little tag to place here, but I’m fresh
out of insights. I can only say that I remember,

and each time I remember there’s something new,
as if I were adding something.

And sometimes remembering is
a consolation for all the things that were lost.

I’m not afraid, or sorry for anything, anymore.
There are people who will always be with me,

and who speak to me as if from a well,
into which I look and see myself.


On the Shyness of Horses

They’re stroking the Derby winner,
shielding his eyes

from the glare of the cameras as he pants,
froths at the mouth.

In slow motion I see the full power
of his strides, propelling him beyond

the pack, the suppleness of the body
in rhythm, flowing like a river.

He seems to want to race,
but who can be sure?

The beauty of the horse lies not
in what it thinks.

And somehow respect seems in order
for all their ken, the powers

of their senses, so well beyond ours,
the will instantaneous with the act.

And just when I’m on the verge of an important
truth, it recedes, refusing to show itself.


David McNaron teaches philosophy at Nova Southeastern 
University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He received 
the MFA in Writing from Vermont College of Fine 
Arts in 2003. His poems have appeared or are 
forthcoming in Poetry East, The Midwest Quarterly, 
Ellipsis,, Gulf Stream, 
Third Wednesday, Deep South, Red Booth Review, 
Summerset Review, Tor House Newsletter and other magazines.