Writing Process

This is one of those poems that is not very good, needs a ton of editing but will not get out of my head. I imagine part of it will be useful, but for now, this is it, in its roughest form.



Ever since you were young, you tried
to stay awake through the night, observing

only the odd shapes made through the room
as the moon shifted in your open window.

When I was young, there was a woman
of calico skin, eyes and tongue, curled up

on the side of a highway. I yelled to my mother
to stop the car, and when we backed up,

she had disappeared. She followed me
for years, through airports and gas stations,

always sickly, perfumed with what could only
be death and wind chimes.


Sometimes in the middle of the night
when we cannot sleep, we lie

in the middle of the backyard. We do not fear
this darkness or the strange shapes

of the Arizona shrubs and flowers
that seem to wilt with darkness.

We listen to the wind, in silence—and I wonder
if perhaps this isn’t part of a dream, too,

since sometimes we remember we really live
in Midwestern snow.


During one of these nights, you
make the mistake of telling me

of a woman who followed you
through your dreams

when you were young, one with calico
hair only, and I try not to believe you.

I pluck one of the flowers, wilted black
with nightfall, and smell the rank fumes

of its funeral, trying to decide
whether or not I ever

told you about her.


About mckenzielynntozan

McKenzie Lynn Tozan lives and writes in South Bend, Indiana, where she works as the Departmental Secretary of English and World Language Studies at Indiana University South Bend, and remains closely affiliated with 42 Miles Press, New Issues Poetry and Prose, and Wolfson Press. She previously received her MFA in Poetry from Western Michigan University, where she worked as the Layout and Design Editor for New Issues Poetry and Prose and as an Assistant Editor of Poetry for Third Coast. Her poems have appeared in Encore Magazine, Sleet Magazine, Rogue Agent, Thank You for Swallowing, Whale Road Review, The James Franco Review, The Birds We Piled Loosely, and Analecta; and her book reviews have appeared on her website and on The Rumpus. She lives with her husband, their daughter, and three cats. For more, visit www.mckenzielynntozan.com. View all posts by mckenzielynntozan

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