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Bring Your Own Water

March 28, 2012

by Marty McConnell

after Richard Siken

the sign outside the bar in Tucson says,
so we do. we bring our own water
to a failing river. to a drowning
dog. we bring our flimsy shoes
to a road acned with potholes,
we throw them in and leave

them there. when it’s time to leave,
we take our water. the bartender says
it’s not that easy. shows us the potholes
in the floor filling with dirty water.
suddenly it’s my fault. our shoes
sit in the road, in the holes. drowning

isn’t what it seems to be. a drowning
man walks out of the bathroom. leave
him alone
, you say. but his shoes
are untied. I’m not your father, he says.
there’s a dog in the street lapping water
with his enormous red tongue. potholes

start forming on the bar, potholes
big enough to for a dog to lie drowning
in. we’re looking for our water,
they told us to bring it, told us to leave
and it doesn’t make sense, I say,
why did we abandon our shoes

in the street, what can we do without shoes,
where is the river. I take a pothole
from the bar and sip, the bartender says
last call. the bartender says drowning
is an outside job
. he wants us to leave
but you’re just getting started. river water

starts filling up the lightbulbs. river water
pours down the bar back mirror. our shoes
ride in on water. on a dog’s back. we leave
the bartender pushing napkins into potholes,
all the barstools unpinning from the drowning
floor. on the way out, we hear the man say

he can’t find his shoes. you see me and say
we all get what we deserve, leave me drowning
in a street of water, your mouth, a perfect pothole.


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Marty McConnell (website) has placed work in numerous anthologies and journals including Crab Orchard, Salt Hill Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, Drunken Boat, Rattle, Rattapallax, Booth Magazine, Fourteen Hills, Thirteenth Moon, Boxcar Poetry Review, Pedestal, 2River View, and A Face to Meet the Faces: An Anthology of Contemporary Persona Poetry. She received her MFA from Sarah Lawrence College and has been a featured reader at numerous literary festivals including the Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival, Connecticut Poetry Festival, and the Palm Beach Poetry Festival. After ten years in New York City, during which she co-founded the literary nonprofit the louderARTS Project and co-curated its renowned reading series, she recently returned to Chicago to establish its sister organization, Vox Ferus.

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  1. March 29, 2012 at 3:11 pm

    So vivid! “Acned with potholes,” the napkins being pushed into them, “the barstools unpinning” — really grabbed me.

  2. April 3, 2012 at 11:36 pm

    An original and very engaging sestina. I’ve never read one like it! I see it as a successful fusion of narrative serendipity with formal constraint. Well done!

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