NAME, M/DD NAME, M/DD NAME, M/DD NAME, M/DD

Mary Mackey


Dreaming of the Bullet-Proof Cars of Maceió


This is the terra do açúcar e maus sonhos

the land of sugar and bad dreams

infinite darkness without borders

where birds passing overhead

smell like biscoitos molhados/wet crackers

sour milk and the sweat of sex

aqui/here in the night room    doorknobs turn

your hands    mirrors reflect receding galaxies

and the clown who lies on his back beside you

twitching and suffering    is your soul

wake up    acordar!    tell me why nothing moves

why starving people lean into their shadows

like flies caught in amber

why the past goes on eating the present

like a rising ocean eats the beach

tell me why they are burning

palm trees on the road to the airport

why the water tastes like ashes

why the windows of the cars are blind

at low tide the children drink cachaça

and call on Iemanjá    fishtailed mother of storms

wake up and tell me why the sand beneath this city

keeps shifting    why all the stores are stocked with

hallucinations    tell me why Solange left

and where she went.


Mary Mackey’s books include six collections of poetry, including Breaking The Fever and Sugar Zone (Marsh Hawk Press, October 2011) and twelve novels. Garrison Keillor has featured her poetry on his show, The Writer’s Almanac, three times. Mackey’s work has been translated into Japanese, Hebrew, Greek, Russian, and Finnish. For the last twenty years, she has been traveling to Brazil with her husband, Angus Wright, who writes about land reform and environmental issues. She is working on a series of poems inspired by the works of Brazilian poets and novelists; combining Portuguese and English, she creates poems that use Portuguese as incantation to evoke the lyrical space that lies at the conjunction between Portuguese and English. For more see www.marymackey.com.

This poem, “Dreaming of The Bullet-Proof Cars of Maceió,” is from Sugar Zone, by Mary Mackey, Marsh Hawk Press, 2011.

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