M. F. McAuliffe, 8/26/2019

Current Occupation: Co-founder, co-editor, Gobshite Quarterly and Reprobate/GobQ Books
Former Occupations: Co-founder & contributing editor, Gobshite Quarterly
Contact Information: M. F. McAuliffe is the author of 1.5 books of poetry, two books of fiction, and co-author of the limited edition artists’ book, Golems Waiting Redux. Her verse and stories have appeared in The Clarion Awards, Overland, Australian Short Stories, The Adelaide Review, Poezija (Zagreb), Prairie Schooner, as well as in WORK. She co-founded and co-edits the multilingual journal Gobshite Quarterly and its sister press, Reprobate/GobQ Books.

 

#

– 13 –

Sometimes

I write

on the backs

of old

paystubs

each one

half a month

of my life

 

I think

of you

married

then

pregnant

then

with a child

 

and wonder

how

in the great silence

of the rounded

rooms

of your house

you could

grasp

the threads of space

weave

time

 

how there could be

a life

given

 

not

having

to be

 

rented out,

½-

stolen

back

 

stunted at every turn:

 

the time it takes to make a world

windows, rain, commute,

mountains, light, sea, the creatures

in their boxes, talking

 

the precise

tones of the birds in the morning

so like bellbirds, so unlike

 

the time it takes to go and return from that place,

the journey repeated

so often the door lies open

so often the wall dissolves

so often that place is real

and surprising

 

and the writing

controlling and refining

writes itself through you

so that the writing and the written, the perceiver and the perceived

are one thing

the gold in the fire

in the dark

 

That is what is forbidden us

by the lack of time

 

That is what is forbidden all of us

the readers of other people’s worlds

 

by drudgery,

the sink and the sinkhole.

 

Prices rise

 

Until only the secure middle class of the past

could have done this

until only the 1%

can do this

 

until we’re reduced to being grateful

for this vast historic theft;

 

for the occasional gifted aristocrat.

 

#

– 14 –



 

But this is a democracy still.

 

We, the unconnected, are encouraged to address

 

writing

coming-of-age

family

sex

self-esteem,

overcoming personal odds to live our best lives

(the odds are always personal)


 

(talk among ourselves

mind our own business)

 

#

– 22 –



 

You say, “A great library is freedom.”

 

Apart from your probably meaning

Triple-X Public, where I’ve worked for twenty years,

and know for a fact to be run by the vicious

undergirded by the clueless, or vice versa, depending on the regime

 

I say freedom is far more

 

Freedom is being free to use a great library

without bargaining your right to eat or sleep

to do it

 

the place being inhabited more by the homeless than by scholars

than by the dignified poor, carefully clothed

(mentally but not physically starved)

(this is not the ’30s; this is not the movies) 

 

the place a temporary shelter from the great predations of the State-backed anarchy of cash:

 

lying cylindrical in sleeping bags

across the footpaths in winter

freezing

 

dead in a bus shelter

a baby

3 plastic sheets to the wind

 

human turds extruded & excluded.

 

I know you know this

 

I’m weary with seeing the machine & what it does

 

Great libraries are great – 

(the paperback rack at Safeway 

among the mid-County car-yards)

 

Freedom is people racking off

leaving you

alone to get on with it

enough light and peace to get on with it

 

enough distance from your situation to be able to see it & act upon it

(sometimes the only freedom you’ve got is your own desperation)

 

Your forgiveness stories

The Yeowe and Werel slave stories

I didn’t find visionary

though they became sublime

I found them odd,

living there already

 

Below you is where the slaves live

 

Perhaps you are right

& having no real choice

is not the same as being locked up

held in bondage, tortured, set to prostitution

 

The slaves live below us

 

But that’s where it starts

with the predilection,

with the desire

for close-quarter control over someone else’s yes or no.

 

“A job that’s neither

exhausting nor morally disgusting,”

a friend once said to me,

smiling because I’d finally found work I could do.

But it is exhausting now

& a lot less not morally disgusting than it used to be

 

Context is everything

feeling has always been the difference between marriage, prostitution, and bond-servitude


 

Let me tell you a story.

 

Once upon a time a great library

had clever, intelligent, highly-skilled librarians

and said:

You will be replaced by your assistants.

Said to the assistants:

Don’t tell us what won’t work.

Chop-chop

lickety-split robo-grind

is the best you can hope for

 

if you don’t want

(human turd)

 

if you don’t want

(bus shelter)

 

If a great library is freedom

Whose freedom is it?


 

 

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