Merridawn Duckler


All day, the sky. Every exhale tasted of flight.
We were insomniac,
drafting dreams on the dark
glassy surface of the pond.
We paced, and these circles became familiar.
One day I saw your eyes were blue as bunting.
I heard my heart. It made a noise like yours.
Instinct is the order, love
is the path. The seeds
of your own home
fly with you at all times.


How to Sit in the ER

Get uncomfortable. Be noble, ignored
and then ignobly bored.

Rehearse your reasons for bringing
her in so that when you call everyone

and they scream at you, it becomes only
one hand clapping on speaker phone.

Straighten your back. Crumble the co-pay.
The book you brought may say more about you.

than you think. Bless the souls
of germs demolished per pump.

If you eat even one oyster cracker, you are consigned
to six months of hell here, so grab a protein bar beforehand.

Your mind will flutter. Kill it with a fly swatter.
Close your eyes. Listen to emergencies bloom like lotus.


Instructions for the service

Invite that person who is a terrible speaker, so everyone has something to talk about at the reception.

Ask people to dress in such a way that everyone keeps asking them what’s going on, you going to church or something?

Encourage the old-timers to discreetly play pool in the back, adjusting their gonads and string thongs while they judge the size of the crowd.

Hold part of the service in the bathrooms where people can speak their true mind with excellent acoustics.

No children, except at the reception. Trays of tiny hamburgers. Street stand lemonade. More desserts than necessary.

Send the ones who loved me the wrong time, so they all arrive together in an empty hall.

Ask the hypocrites to hand out the hymnals.

Let all pass by music. Awkward sunlight. Have the A/V breakdown and weep.


Merridawn Duckler

I’ve studied Zen Buddhism since I was a teenager with a crush on Allen Ginsberg. I’m more scholar than adept but influence is often transmitted in texts. My meditative practice is washing bricks. I strongly recommend it—very beautiful and peaceful and profoundly useless, as they will only get dirty again. The practice reminds me that actions have consequences, but outcomes are unknown. I experience the physicality of the spray, the painting of soil and moss swirling away. The moment they are clean, they are already becoming dirty again. Nothing ends, but everything begins. We thick-as-a-brick types need this message.

Merridawn Duckler is a poet, playwright from Portland, Oregon, and the author of INTERSTATE, Dancing Girl Press. Recent work in Ninth Letter, Juked, Heron Tree, the anthologies Climate of Opinion: Sigmund Freud in Poetry and Weaving the Terrain: 100 Word Southwestern Poems from Dos Gatos Press. Fellowships/awards include NEA, Yaddo, Squaw Valley, SLS in St. Petersburg, Russia, Southampton Poetry Conference, finalist Gloria Burgess Fellowship Poets on the Coast. She’s an editor at Narrative and at the international philosophy journal Evental Aesthetics.

More on Merridawn Duckler's work can be found on our Links page.

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