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 –


I write

on the backs

of old


each one

half a month

of my life


I think

of you





with a child


and wonder


in the great silence

of the rounded


of your house

you could


the threads of space




how there could be

a life





to be


rented out,





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







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



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.


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?



1 Comment on “M. F. McAuliffe, 8/26/2019

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


3 × four =