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Terence Winch

Kathleen O’Toole: Pick of the Week [ed. Terence Winch]

Kathleen O'Toole  web





















Those Reels


skip from Billy's accordion

skim the polished floorboards ’til

they land up under your heels


then swell into a pulse

that tips the scales of reticence

holding you fast.


Into a circle of arms

now twining, now reaching by,

the notes come skittering


alive in the glistening of flushed

faces, arched along flexed

calf muscles, legs


that spring against the gravity

of measured days. So out of place

in the city, these tunes


when they spill out

over the urgent bass

of sidewalk rap, above


the din of tin cans

and scrap in a pushcart, from the window

of a smoky bar—a stream


of flute, soft and absurd

as sheep would be, grazing in Bayview Park.

Yet there's more beneath


this breath. Under

the taut-stringed fiddle's a fire: grief

pressed to oil, to wine


to a dance

on the exile's grave.


Kathleen O’Toole is the author of four poetry collections, most recently This Far (Paraclete Press, 2019). Her poems have received numerous honors and prizes, and have appeared in such publications as  America, Christian Century, Notre Dame Review, Poetry, Prairie Schooner, and Spiritus. The former Poet Laureate of Takoma Park, Maryland, O’Toole is a longtime community organizer who finds joy in birding, biking, sailing the Chesapeake, and in Irish music and dancing.


Tomas O'Maoldomhnaigh  Fleadh Ceili Ennis  2018.                                                                     Tomas O'Maoldomhnaigh, Fleadh Ceili Ennis, 2018.


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That Ship Has Sailed
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"Lively and affectionate" Publishers Weekly


I left it
on when I
left the house
for the pleasure
of coming back
ten hours later
to the greatness
of Teddy Wilson
"After You've Gone"
on the piano
in the corner
of the bedroom
as I enter
in the dark

from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman


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