Volume 10 • Number 2 • Fall-Winter 2018-2019

Janet McCann

Writing The Flood

the writing

it is walking in galoshes
mud swirling around ankles
the pthuck pthuck of pulling out
each reluctant step

it used to be barefoot on grass
soft moist blades bending under soles
springing back green and upright again
a word like meadow means nothing now

in the gray air and fusty mold
dark waves of garbage flow down the street
frightened faces wordless in windows
splashes and stinks

rotted leaves clinging to the blank
illegible dank scrawls
I keep sending out doves
but none of them come back

the feeling

collapse, apocalypse.
sheetrock crumbles, walls buckle,
piles of rotting debris
cover all their places. The moon hangs
over the devastation, This is the last place
on earth.

violated rooms, shattered glass.
lives ripped open by the wind.
sac of family torn open,
sodden treasures, desire for sleep. sleep.

who are we if we are not our houses?

British grandmother said, safe as houses.
There were few hurricanes in her land, and
the bombs had not yet fallen there. I put
my tiny hand in hers. safe.

houses were safe, were safes.
anything chasing you out there
vanished with the slam of a door.
you were home.


boats pick up the stranded,
white towels in second-storey windows
signaling, we concede to the storm.
Janet and Steve are rescued,
clutching a Yorkie each.

trucks, buses, displacement, nowhere to go.
no doors to shut.
everything open, like the Last Day.

Journals publishing Janet McCann’s work include Kansas Quarterly, Parnassus, Nimrod, Sou'Wester, America, Christian Century, Christianity and Literature, New York Quarterly, Tendril, and others. A 1989 NEA Creative Writing Fellowship winner, she taught at Texas A & M University from 1969-2016, is now Professor Emerita. She has co-edited anthologies with David Craig, Odd Angles of Heaven (Shaw, 1994), Place of Passage (Story Line, 2000), and Poems of Francis and Clare (St. Anthony Messenger, 2004). Most recent poetry collection: The Crone at the Casino (Lamar University Press, 2014).