All in by Marjorie Maddox

by Marjorie Maddox

if I’m someone she should know,

pay attention to, bother having coffee with,

talk with about the father who raped her at twelve,

about my father, about the slant of rainy light after

you’re weeping for half a life and then some and

when/if you leave the toilet paper unwinding from the top

or bottom, and what our papas said the two days after,

and avocados and kumquats, and the strange

geometric shapes that cascade into our dreams

five days each year before the equinox, and if

I’m well known enough for her to pry open my palm

and slice my lifelines with an X-Acto knife—would I

do that for her?—and have I won a Pulitzer yet, and

what color were the eyes of God when I looked straight

at Him for three minutes without blinking once, Ok

maybe once, and may she have that last bottle of wine,

could she borrow a glass, and how much does The New Yorker

pay, do I think they would consider her work, she’s started

writing, too, have I slept with anyone there, and does the mold

in my studio make my eyes itch in the morning—or evening,

she’s heard both—because she really wants to know about the time

the London editor who knew the New York editor who knew me

from someone at the colony or raved about my work on Eskimos or

transplants or something like that and later sat on a committee

that judged that really important prize—she can’t remember

which one right now because, thanks again, she had a bit too much

of my Merlot, but am I that writer, the one she’s heard

something about, the one she should know?

No, I say, no, though I am someone

writing, trying to write, someone.



Sage Graduate Fellow of Cornell University (MFA) and Professor of English at Lock Haven University, Marjorie Maddox has published 11 collections of poetry—including Wives' Tales; True, False, None of the Above (Poiema Poetry Series); Local News from Someplace Else (Wipf & Stock); Weeknights at the Cathedral (WordTech Editions); Transplant, Transport, Transubstantiation (Yellowglen Prize); and Perpendicular As I (Sandstone Book Award—as well as the short story collection What She Was Saying (Fomite Press), and over 550 poems, stories, and essays in journals and anthologies. Marjorie is the co-editor of Common Wealth: Contemporary Poets on Pennsylvania (PSU Press 2005), assistant editor of Presence, and author of four children's books. For more, please see