Back to Issue Nine.

It’s What You Said You Wanted



I think it’s a poem.  I think I wrote it down.  Andrea

calls.  We talk for an hour and then she says she thinks

she wrote a poem.  I think it has a title.  She takes

the phone downstairs—footsteps, shifting handset.  She finds

the book—I hope I can read my writing—and then reads

—her voice gentle, low, an excellent thing in a woman—

you don’t have to ask about the odds, they’re

stacked against you like cordwood, like—oh, wait.  No.

I’m sorry.  This isn’t it.  I thought it was a poem but it’s not.  


The winner of three Pushcart prizes, Jill McDonough is the author of Habeas Corpus (Salt, 2008), Oh, James! (Seven Kitchens, 2012), and Where You Live (Salt, 2012). The recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Fine Arts Work Center, the New York Public Library, the Library of Congress, and Stanford University’s Wallace Stegner Program, she taught incarcerated college students through Boston University’s Prison Education Program for thirteen years. Her work has appeared in Poetry, Slate, The Nation, The Threepenny Review, and Best American Poetry. She directs the MFA program at UMass-Boston and 24PearlStreet, the Fine Arts Work Center online.

More by Jill McDonough: 
Ken Chukwuba, Salt Lake City,” Poetry, Issue Nine.