Thursday, December 18, 2014


She takes her broom to the front door and starts to the left
sweeping every crease, every corner widdershins, out 
with the bad, out out out, all the way ‘round the house till
she arrives back at the front door, willing the stalker Catatonia
out out out with the debris she sweeps to the street. 

She pulls the secateurs from her back pocket, cuts rosemary from
the side the dogs don’t pee on, counting in nines, over and 
over and over till there is an armful. Shakes out the loose and
the lizards before carrying the bundle to the table in the shade of the porch. 
Before going back out to crumble a cigarette under the perennial. 

She she fills the dog water bowl, sets out her sharpened athame (thinks 
bullshit they were not weapons), lights the candle, and from it 
the mountain sage smudge offering the smoke to the seven directions.
Breathe in breathe out breathe in breathe out breathe in breathe out.
Set down the roots. Ancestors and guides hear me, it’s been a while. 

She gathers nine rosemary stems, trims the cut ends even and starts
the red cord wrap with a clinch knot one two three tightened down 
hard, wind nine to the left diagonal, quick one two three at the skinny end,
start back down deosil one two three four five six seven eight nine
and the last doesn’t reach it will need ten so she unwinds and starts over. 

Breathe in breathe out breathe in breathe out breathe in breath out
One two three four five six seven eight nine, tight wrap one two three.
Clinch knot with the tail one two three, wrap from the spool one two three
wrap from the tail one two three and a square knot. So mote it be. She
sets that first aside, begins again. Breathe in breathe out one two three…

Sunday, November 30, 2014


I am certain my daughter and my niece
never worry they will be shot dead
in the face if they have car trouble
and knock on a door for help.

I am certain my daughter and my niece
never worry that their sons will be shot dead 
by police on their way to the check out with a
BB gun they picked up in the WalMart toy department.

I am certain my daughter and my niece
never worry that their sons will be shot dead
by police if they take that BB gun to the park,
even if they plink a few squirrels.

I am certain my daughter and my niece
never worry their sons, armed with Arizona Tea
and Skittles, will be shot dead by a white man
on a rainy night in a gated community.

I am certain my daughter and my niece
never worry their sons will be shot dead
by police for walking down the street in their 
own neighborhood, and left there 4 1/2 hours.

I do not know how to end this
but I am certain it isn’t over
by a long shot.


My name is Cyn McCollum, and I am a white poet who refuses to stay silent while this country murders people who look like Renisha McBride, John Crawford III, Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin, and Michael Brown, and my brown skinned friend. I refuse to remain silent. I have right to be angry.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Pale Rats

They said come to a feast, and we did.
There was not enough, 4 pitiful birds,
so our elders said go bring 5 deer, 
and gather what we could. 90 of us, why would 
they plan so poorly? How could they not know?
These people will starve in the cold season.

These people, they are making wampum.
Stripping the waters for food, they now harvest 
the shell bits and trade it back for the belts
that once displayed the wealth of our elders, 
carried on their persons. The food part
is left to rot on the shore. The waste!

They came in like the tide, wave
after wave, ever eroding the land
and pushing the People back farther
into the second growth after the plague
like pale rats, amazing in their numbers.
Timing could not have been worse for us.

We’ve had enough. We began at Detroit and move 
strongly southeast to the place they called Fort Pitt. 
We were strong and they were, once again, starving. 
Their Chief Ecyyer called parley that summer, and offered gifts 
of two blankets and a small cloth to each of our diplomats
as a sign of goodwill. Another plague came.

During Red Cloud’s war, he found a hat.
Or maybe he took it as coup, that truth is lost.
But the one that remains is he refused to give up
our dignity to the pale rats that pushed us
farther and farther back into the desert,
away from our plains, our land, our home.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Five of Swords

The psychic says I am a warrior,
battle ready to a fault.
He says I am a healer, nurturing 
the broken, and the two
parts merge. I go to battle for, and
heal the ones I think deserve me.

Waxing moon magick, 
spell cast oh my goddess
I want and she grants
and as with all love spells,
all the available is given
and all the baggage comes with.

So I arm myself and I lay 
on hands to heal that which
I did not inflict, and wallow in 
the new of strange,
all my fantasies granted.

That which is fatal cannot be
healed, and all the wars without 
relief wear down even the most loyal. 
Drop the sword. Scatter the herbs.
Pause to breathe.
Look out over the battlefield.

Morrigan rises with the waxing moon.
Ravens pick the bones.
Disbelief banished. Truth remains.
Five of swords is not death,
just surrender. Walk away.
This battle is not worth the cost.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Witch of Words

When La Bruja de Las Palabras
banishes you from the Manor,
do not believe she has finished.
Razor blades pirouette from
her lips around your retreating form
exacting the blood sacrifice,
which excites her flying monkey minions
till they chatter and dance
on her window ledge.

The huntsman delivers a pig’s heart 
to La Reina de la Locura,
who has already forgotten
which victim this is supposed to be,
so she buries it in the garden
to see who will germinate.
The dwarves are fascinated
when a curly tail emerges. 
But Herself? Only more confused.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014


You, who would not ever consider suicide:
Please remember those of us 
who considered it in the first grade.
Your standards are not ours.
Your condescension is not helpful.

You, who would call us selfish, 
remember Oscar Wilde said
Selfishness is not living your life
as you wish, it is asking others
to live their lives as you wish.

You, who would control my manner
and moment of death to suit you.
No thank you. When I decide the pain
is too great, you do not even enter the equation.
My life is not yours, it is mine, and my death 
is always beyond your control.

Shut the fuck up about how it hurts you.
You would call me a coward in the face of This?
Had I been hit by a bus it would hurt you less?
My end is not yours. If I had cancer
it would be no less terminal. Some survive, 
some don’t.

You protest? Fuck you. Remember this:
Your judgement at this moment speaks 
more of your lack of sympathy
than it ever did of my choice.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Three Dreams

Darkening  shades of violet stain the side of her,

ripe as a plum, juicy, swollen,

       a trickle of blood from the ear.

Crumbling posture, 

gravity draws her smooth 

dissolving the light.

No tarnished ceremony,

no spectacle

shadows the blaze created.

Never the groom.

Never the bride.

Stalled sideshow turbulence blur the year,

dreams vanish into insomnia,

into shadowed delirium.

The visiting apparition

rarely makes eye contact

as I suffer. Unwilling.

My curse lacked a time frame.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Rise in Peace

The poets mourn their Mother
and their Grandmother.
What will the planet do without her
voice setting the rhythm?

Pick up the book, child,
read it, then speak your own truth.
Be proud, be strong,
Be Love and love and love and love.
Hold your face to the sun
and accept the blessing,
walk your own road all the way home.
I taught you, I left it all,
let me rest now.
Go read.
Rise in Peace, madam,
I am blessed to have shared
a space on this planet
during the time that you did.

Friday, April 11, 2014


Future XV3 and I are sitting in my kitchen.
We are at that early stage,
all hot emergency sex
and long discussions solving
the problems of the world
when he says
5 years.
That’s all it lasts.
After that you all just don’t want sex anymore.

I look at him. He looks at me.
Supposed to be friends who can say anything.

I shrug. I nod. I tell him
It’s not that we don’t want sex.
It’s that we don’t want YOU.
I point my finger at his chest.
Sometime soon you will start
treating me as your mother,
as your child, as your servant,
as your plaything, as your property.
You will piss me off
one last time and then
I won't want YOU anymore.

We both realize we are panting,
angry, and look away.

Our eyes meet again.
But hey, that can't happen to us, right?
We've been friends too long, right?
We are at that stage that is
all hot emergency sex
and long discussions solving
the problems of the world.

So we swipe the kitchen table
empty and fuck on it.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

6/30/14 Adjustment Disorder

Adjustment Disorder

It’s a thing. Seems having your life
go to shit with no positive options
available is now a psychiatric disorder,
prevalent in formerly working class people
over 50, who have not found another job
since the Crash, and lived on their
Crash Trashed retirement savings
until it was gone. The house that was home
for 27 years belongs to Bank of America,
your credit is in the toilet, and your phone is turned off.
Here, have some Buspar.

What. The. Actual. Fuck.
Ok granted, I’m a little crazy,
but my feelings about this situation are not.
We worked our butts off raising you all,
doing strong young body things over and over
that are no longer possible for our now old bodies
to do over and over. It hurts too bad.
What are we going to do about retirement?
We can’t afford retirement. Best if we just let nature
take it’s course, let Paul Ryan and Rick Scott call us lazy
and irresponsible in the mean time.

The trap is closed and chewing your leg off
won’t get you anywhere.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

4/30/14 The Fuck You Haiku

The Fuck You Haiku

If I'd known I could
not tolerate your bullshit
I'd not have done this.

Yes, out of numerical order. Poetry. Deal with it.

5/30/14 Self Comfort

Self Comfort

It is not weird.

Ok, maybe it is weird, having
several playlists in my iPod - songs,
poems, stories - carefully selected for their capacity
to calm me. A certain pitch, a certain rhythm, 
like being rocked in trusted arms. 

When I was a little marching bands made me cry.
The LOUD buzzed beyond my ears
to the bone, my ears, my eyes,
want to scream, run, hide.
Stop stop stop.
That's not weird, right? 

Subwoofers should vanish from the earth.
This would be a very good thing.

Ok, it it weird, but who says you
control my bass, my volume, my own
sensory overload? Decide what goes 
in my ears in my bones in my brain.
Stop. Stop. Stop.

So shush, let me plug the buds in my ears,
lie down in the sun or on the sofa, and listen. I am
being rocked in trusted arms and I won't
melt down all over you.

That is not weird.

Thursday, April 3, 2014


Talking to angels 
is useless. You never visit
anymore. I don't believe
the dead are angels.
Ghosts, maybe, hanging here,
or the ascended, never born again.

No new fantasies, no new dreams,
only memories. So I do understand.
You are not coming back 
in this lifetime.  Patience 
is pointless. You have gone ahead. 
I hope you remember me.

But I can't know that part,
I'm still here. Looking 
at the map. Wondering
will I be arrested in your old
front yard doing my letting go ritual
among someone else's lawn ornaments.


2/30/14 Haiku

It's hard to drive past your dead
love's exit and not
make the turn toward that lost home.



Chasing fireflies in the lavender
twilight, shadows deepen dusky,
perfect for hide n seek.
Evening breeze chills child flesh
sweaty from all the running.
Moon rises, a pearl in the east.
Mamas yelling Come Inside
out the front door
just after the mosquitos get bad.


Wednesday, March 26, 2014


I stick my head up
into that dust, hot wood 
and faint hint of dead rat
smell of attic.

Carved wooden box
on a shelf softly webbed,
light for it's size when 
I pull it out
and set it on the bigger 
box on the floor below.

Not much inside.
A mint tin of child and puppy teeth.
A green satin ribbon spiraled into a coil.
A picture of my baby brother 
when he had long hair and
still loved me.
A small corner cut from a larger quilt.
A dog collar with tags, that sniffed,
still smells like her.

in the next offering:
A silver ring embossed
with red Black Hills gold, set
with a square garnet.
The lid closes snugly, as always.
The clean print in the shelf dust
covered once again.

Spider on the shelf,
tell your grandchildren
I will be back with more.
The cool hallway below
smells like grass
and furniture polish.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Some Bridges

Some bridges need burning.
Not that you should make a habit
of disrupting the roadways, but there
are some places that should never
be revisited. Soak it in coal oil,
set a case of roman candles
square in the middle. Prayerfully
light the match. Catch the tinder.
Call just the right amount of breeze
to fan the flames into a spectacular 
smoking pyre, shooting rockets skyward 
so the other side cannot miss the destruction 
over your personal River Kwai.

It's the ones along the footpath
you need to be careful with.
The small bridges crossed daily, unseen.
A little rickety, some creaking boards,
safe footing across the swampy part,
keeping your shoes clean. 
Your journey swift and sure,
with last year's weeds winter dry 
where you step onto solid ground. 
Those are the ones you don't even notice. 
It's that cigarette butt carelessly tossed 
as you hurry onward thinking of other things 
that catches in weeds, feeds on
the tinder dry planks till they crackle merrily. 
You are miles away before the piers smolder 
down to the water line 
and disappear beneath the duck weed.

You will notice on your way home.
Your foot sinks into the muck,
your shoe comes off  as you pull it out.
Then you will look up and see the marsh
has no dry crossing, no magickal path,
only mud and reeds and black wet spots.
You will wonder, then,
where the little footbridge went
and how will you get home now,
how will you keep your shoes clean,
and if there are alligators out there.
But the creaky old footbridge has
donated her carbon back to the swamp
to feed whatever comes next.

Cyn Hanrahan McCollum 2/14/14