Kathleen McClung


Indulge me. A lost art: you can't steer by my voice,
rush hour duet with helicopter blades,
each freeway snarl, bridge accident relayed with poise,
a muted empathy, plain words. Decades
ago they dubbed me Dawn O'Day. My uniform
a zippered gold lamé jumpsuit, high heels,
headphones. I learned to waltz with thunderstorms
from Steve who flew artillery across rice fields
in Nam. I watched him, stoic, navigate
each element—air, water, earth—to lift
off, circle, land, but could not emulate
my colleague. No, this shifting sky's a gift
to praise, revere. The traffic, too—apologies,
threats, alibis, songs, jokes—a masterpiece.

Kathleen McClung is the author of Almost the Rowboat. Her work appears in Atlanta Review, Mezzo Cammin, Unsplendid, West Trestle Review, Raising Lilly Ledbetter: Women Poets Occupy the Workspace, and elsewhere. A Pushcart Prize nominee and winner of the Rita Dove Poetry Award, she is a two-time finalist for the Morton Marr Poetry Prize for formal verse. She teaches at Skyline College and the Writing Salon in the San Francisco Bay Area and serves as sonnet judge for the Soul-Making Keats literary competition. www.kathleenmcclung.com. "The Traffic Reporter's Retirement Speech" Previously appeared in the Poets 11 Anthology 2014.

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