Thursday, March 8, 2018

“Happiness: A Road Map” by Marcie McGuire

Songs of Eretz Poetry Review is pleased to present “Happiness:  A Road Map” by Marcie McGuire.  McGuire is a poet, memoirist, and fiction writer born and raised in Kentucky but now living in Missouri, where she enjoys the simple things in life, such as playing music with friends, dancing, walking in nature, and keeping bees.  She has worked as a librarian, English teacher, and editor.

McGuire’s poems have appeared in Inscape, Midlands, and Kansas Quarterly.  Her short fiction and nonfiction have appeared in Well Versed 2017, and her flash fiction recently appeared in Reflex Fiction.

Happiness: A Road Map
Marcie McGuire

All those years she managed
"Bucket List" Photograph
By J. Artemus Gordon
to cut her dreams down to size, to
make do with what she had, to 
hold on to everything
she had outgrown or worn out,
against the slimmest chance
that it could be transfigured
into something she could use,
until those things she had
became what she thought she 
wanted, until her dreams were 
less than nothing, until
you could ask her anything,
and she would say she has 
never been happier.

She makes love at the borders
where time and space change places,
where it is impossible to tell the
last day of winter from the first
day of spring, where things spill
into each other and become their
opposites. In no time, the minutes
become the miles she has traveled
in the passenger seat, the trees and
utility poles moving steadily past
her window into yesterday, the
road map unfolded across her lap,
as though she meant to give
directions, as though she could
predict which way to turn.

Poet’s Notes:  Too often in life, I have chosen the easy path or have failed to choose. I have let fear and insecurity keep me from putting myself out in the world and asking for what I really wanted. Fearing rejection or failure, I have taken what came along and “made do” with what I had. This poem is a reminder to myself that I have the power and the responsibility to take charge of my own life. 

Editor’s Note:  From the ironic title to the final sad scene in the narrative, McGuire poetically tells the story of crushed dreams and how most of us let life pass us by.  Her metaphors enhance the narrative immensely--I particularly like the useless, ironic open map as a metaphor for a useless, ironic, closed life.  This poem should resonate with many and benefit a few who might snap out of their funks after pondering its important message. 

Artist's Note: The colored pieces of paper represent the old fun dreams and plans that have been forgotten in a world that is now otherwise devoid of "color." This is the first photograph I've taken in a long time for the purpose of being its own piece. The nature of this poem required me to be more metaphorical. I came up with the idea for this and realized there was no reason to paint it, and, in fact, it would be more powerful as a photograph.

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