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 Indiana, where she works as a virtual assistant, editor, and freelance writer via her self-started business, MLT Creative. She 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 Poetry Editor for Third Coast. She previously completed her B.S. in Secondary English Education and B.A. in English, with a Concentration in Writing, at Indiana University South Bend, where she worked as the Managing Editor for 42 Miles Press. Her poems have appeared in Rogue Agent, Whale Road Review, the James Franco Review, Emerge Literary Journal, Encore Magazine, Thank You for Swallowing, The Spooklet, Sleet Magazine, and Analecta, among others; and her book reviews and essays have appeared on The Rumpus and Motherly. When not writing, she enjoys art and music, and the simple mathematics of being a wife of one, a mama of two, and a cat-mom of three. For more, visit www.mckenzielynntozan.com. View all posts by mckenzielynntozan

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