Tag Archives: Rachel McCarren

NETTLEMOUTH

By Rachel McCarren

County Leitrim, IE, circa 1850

The house is cold.
The blankets, stiff
I hear the baby cry. 
I go to the stove, stoke it up,
Add what scrap wood I can find.
I take the baby from the cradle,
slant the bones of my back
against the wicker rocker spine.
Yellow-green light shines
through the window
from the fields far behind.
Through the glass, I watch the mist twist
like wraiths’ wrists through the forest.
The fog is thick. My skin is thin.
I try to feed the baby, 
but my arms buckle
when I try to help him suckle. I think, 
the nettle-weed behind my home,
their tincture is but mild.
I’ll boil them with honey, sugar,
and some whiskey for the child.


Rachel McCarren‘s poetry has appeared in The Honest Ulsterman, Lupercalia Press’s debut anthology Vulcanalia, Anti-Heroin Chic Mag, The Unexposed Mag, and more. During her MFA at Carlow University in Pittsburgh, PA, Rachel studied summers at Trinity College Dublin in IE. Rachel is currently based in Pittsburgh, PA, but she plans to permanently relocate to Ireland with her Irish partner within the next year.

SERENBE

By Rachel McCarren

Fulton County, GA, 2016

The red-hot clay beats
like blood beneath bare feet.
In the morning, I run
from the pale pink sun
through pine-needle pastures. 
Something draws me faster
down the path to the pine grove.
Along the road, the horses’ heads hovel close
in nostril smoke. I stop in the shadow of an old oak.
From its boughs swings a frayed hemp rope.
In my mind, a warning sign:
Bide the master’s stride
whose yew cane tramples down
the brown grass where you lie.
I hear the whip and heave of the master ride
as his midnight bridle chokes.
In this place named for honeybees
and serenity, I will not feign ideality 
nor will I idle while stood below
the swing of Southern ghosts.


Rachel McCarren‘s poetry has appeared in The Honest Ulsterman, Lupercalia Press’s debut anthology Vulcanalia, Anti-Heroin Chic Mag, The Unexposed Mag, and more. During her MFA at Carlow University in Pittsburgh, PA, Rachel studied summers at Trinity College Dublin in IE. Rachel is currently based in Pittsburgh, PA, but she plans to permanently relocate to Ireland with her Irish partner within the next year.

A Sycamore’s Scream

By Rachel McCarren

Wolf Creek, Slippery Rock, PA, 2017

The sun’s white metallic sheen and smell
tells me I’ve awoken mid-winter. It’s morning.
The cool grass glides between my fingers—
gives and breathes like the fur of a great beast.

I open my eyes, spread my palms wide, feel the soft ground,
marred by the occasional coarse stone or brittle bone.
I’m buried ankle-deep in fall’s skirting of crumbling leaves.
Downhill from me, there are signs of human crisis:

empty beer cans, broken glass bottles, crumpled plastic bags.
I watch the ice-choked creek roil round the ringed mouths
of bald tires. I see the empty nests of eagles tangled
in the thread-bare branches of birches, trunks hollowed by plight.

The skin on my shins is rippled and scarred at eye level,
ruined by so many lovers’ knife-tips. I reach and twist, 
crack my back and knuckles, stretch my limbs.
I look down at the pit, glower at the strewn garbage,

at the piles of worm-eaten corpses, of beetle bowered towers, 
the bodies of my friends long fallen and devoured. I beckon 
the rumbling ground to awaken with my howl. 
I pause for the sound of a thousand wings ascending,
but the sky is deadly silent, and I am lonely, waiting.


Rachel McCarren‘s poetry has appeared in The Honest Ulsterman, Lupercalia Press’s debut anthology Vulcanalia, Anti-Heroin Chic Mag, The Unexposed Mag, and more. During her MFA at Carlow University in Pittsburgh, PA, Rachel studied summers at Trinity College Dublin in IE. Rachel is currently based in Pittsburgh, PA, but she plans to permanently relocate to Ireland with her Irish partner within the next year.

THE KNOX MINE DISASTER

By Rachel McCarren

Exeter, PA, 1959

When the mine tunnels collapsed,
the river dragged fistfuls of horses into its depths,
uprooted trees and swallowed train cars whole,
trapped a hundred men inside and drowned them in darkness.

Now, the river carries the miner’s bodies back to the surface.
They float belly-up below the docks. Their dead eyes shine 
like so many dimes wasted at the bottom of a wishing well.
I wade in knee-deep with the other miners’ wives.

We sift their lovers from the black water, lay them out in a line.
When my eyes finally rest on the shoulders of my father,
I go deaf. I cannot shake the sight of his body,
bloated and bound by willow weed, face-down in the creek.


Rachel McCarren‘s poetry has appeared in The Honest Ulsterman, Lupercalia Press’s debut anthology Vulcanalia, Anti-Heroin Chic Mag, The Unexposed Mag, and more. During her MFA at Carlow University in Pittsburgh, PA, Rachel studied summers at Trinity College Dublin in IE. Rachel is currently based in Pittsburgh, PA, but she plans to permanently relocate to Ireland with her Irish partner within the next year.

FOR THE WOMEN WHO DISAPEAR

By Rachel McCarren

In the darkness, her skin glows like white silk. Her mouth is bound by a ragged cloth she’s naked, hogtied on her side with triple-tied knots of red rope. Her blue eyes stare up through the jagged peaks of pines, trace the bleary outline that marks the rippling spine of the Wicklow mountainside. Inwardly, she knows why it’s here that only lovers go. Instinctively, she knows: that foxes will feast on her fingertips, crows will peck at her breasts, mice will nest in her chest, and badgers will bury what pieces are left in the bowels of the bog. She knows that she will become one of the loathsome lost.


Rachel McCarren‘s poetry has appeared in The Honest Ulsterman, Lupercalia Press’s debut anthology Vulcanalia, Anti-Heroin Chic Mag, The Unexposed Mag, and more. During her MFA at Carlow University in Pittsburgh, PA, Rachel studied summers at Trinity College Dublin in IE. Rachel is currently based in Pittsburgh, PA, but she plans to permanently relocate to Ireland with her Irish partner within the next year.