Cathy McGuire: I am an art therapist, artist, and writer with over 50 poems published in the US and England. I have published two children's books and am marketing a historical murder mystery, as well as showing my prints, paintings, and handmade books in regional galleries.


My skin like wrinkled linen
doesn't fit right anymore.
It sags and bunches and
chokes my waistband,
yearning, its seems, for
some lower state of being.
My eyes gloss over details,
like lazy students they
tend toward vague, general
forms, leaving out nuance
and clarity.
My mind is still sharp, though --
no problem there. When things
sprout legs and move from room
to room, I call it
"high spirits". When facts fall
somewhat short of the tongue,
I laugh and say, "took a detour,
I guess." The trick is to
lower expectations.
Not something one can tell
the young, but there it is.

Copyright 2000 by Cathy McGuire


Along the steel girder bridge, half in shadow,
half glared by the city's lights, a boy walks
slow, bowed by his sack, wool cap
on his head, a hobo teen. Frayed,
loose-fitted clothes betray him
as cast-off goods. Someone's child,
though -- somewhere a house he ran through
or a room at least; somewhere small cars
he raced along the sofa's arm.
Now he plods from dry to dry in the soggy night,
looking at the dirty concrete, his mind empty
his soul torn, his body aging too fast.
If there are dreams for hobos, are they solid enough
to feed the soul, or are they junk food as plastic
as the McBurger that was his last, dimly-remembered meal?

Copyright 2000 by Cathy McGuire

Walt, the Song is Dying

"I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear,
Those of mechanics, each one singing his as it should be..."
-- Whitman, 1860

The songs that wove their notes
into a celebration of the lives
of everyday folk, the songs
of the crafts, of the makers and
carers -- the song that irrepressibly
was the nation... this tune is faint,
the harmonies hushed, the singers
faltering, confused and tired.

Instead of the shoemaker, boatman
or seamstress song, there is
cacaphony of product-line noise,
the fragmented clash of bits and
pieces of a job parceled through
the world, assembled last minute
and shipped to stores cloned so
that every town could be set up
anywhere by five companies.

The melting pot has nuked
the life that could be lived as one
piece, one work of art, a whole.
Instead we are assembled from
the cloned traits and goods that
the media tout as FRESHEST,
NEWEST, CLEANEST -- while life
and soul are battered into die-cut forms.

Song, that urge to blend our voice with wind
and bird and stream, that upwell of joy
that bursts like spring budding --
song is propaganda now, ads tuned to burrow
into our minds and birth insatiable hungers.
Even song is betrayed.

Copyright 2000 by Cathy McGuire


Flap of a box,
cardboard sign:
Weary sentries of our subdivisions --
gatekeepers: "Thou shalt not pass
into the whitebread hills

Hands creased and dirty,
worn at the knuckles.

Whose are they, these men?
Fallen, friendless,
they watch the drivers hot and sullen,
leave clogged ramps for their
quiet treelined streets.

Cars ease by, volvos pause
to scan traffic, looking through -- never at --
the recycled clothes on the discarded man.

Behind his sign
a twelve-foot face grins
with a six-foot beer:
lure to the thirst. He never looks.

But risk a glance --
drop your shield and see:
the eyes consume you
like a black hole -- there is
no air, no place to breathe.
Does it matter if he wants booze or food?
To spend the days on a guard rail
staring at infinity -- does it matter which road
brought him? He is our shadow nonetheless.

Copyright 2000 by Cathy McGuire