Pattie McCarthy


mercy no one wants to just disappear
just do the work goodwyf piecework patience
figure the specific sharp disapproval
with which loud boychiks are escorted from mass
there is only one party & we are all there
I didn't want you to come but in truth
I didn't want to be the witch that undid
you either mercy you have to relearn
hunger you a purely domestic knife
look up from its edge at the sky more often
it's stupid to say but it's true I am
the goodwyf that made this weder strong
while cooking countermagic a stone fell
down the chimney like a quaker pigeon


mercy enters the story like a wolf
with a history of the word to wyf
her body as historical landscape
maximum performance of improper
behavior my lover a falconer
the slow motion underneath daughterthing
mercy no one disappears however
much they might wish to do so a midden
quick with my tongue bitten in half my life
it is late last night the dog the snipe was
speaking of you in her deep marsh a dirty
thing with mud you said & sink into it
I'd like to vote for a wolf daughterthing
says yes I would like to vote for my wolf


mercy said that she told her mercy told
the wifthing of bath tooth-gapped beautiful
lickerous deaf the hawk in havoc
plucks a chinhair wearing reading glasses
the hex in hag one wishes
just once for the hag to remain a hag
speak of mercy & the wolf will appear
let nature take its course they said I was
covered in blood on my knees in nature
saying this happens to everyone comforts
exactly no one note that mnu
stands for maiden name unknown
an exhaustive
accusation archive they said why didn't
you fight back I said that's what I'm doing


mercy learn in a permanent lockdown
you should work in a permanent lockdown
you could play fuck walk in a permanent
lockdown birth sleep eat in a permanent
lockdown wake tweet fight swim shift thou pluckest
me out in a permanent lockdown
she said that mercy told her mercy told
daughterthing asks what do you think about
during a lockdown drill I think about
my middlest boychik in the butter
yellow main gallery of the barnes museum
on a third grade field trip looking at cezannes
I need to know where you are & what you're
wearing as protective domestic magic


mercy we midden we accumulate
we relearn we glitter we disappear
we dirty thing we different bodies we
cobwebs we high tide we archive we note
we dazzle we erasure we hungry
we anemic we witches we tongue bitten
we learn we mercy we lockdown we work
we hawk we hag we horrorstruck we pluck
we soothe we wool we manbuns we mirror
we comforts we blood we hex we tongue we
told we unnatural we historical
we undid we read them we sea we seen
we peoples we goodwyf we lover we
quick we disapprove we countermagic

a few notes :

  • I owe the stone falling down the chimney to The Devil of Great Island: Withcraft & Conflict in Early New England by

    Emerson W. Baker.

  • I owe the Quaker pigeon to T.H. White's The Sword in the Stone.

  • "it is late last night the dog / the snipe" &c. — from the Irish poem "Dónal Óg" translated by Lady Augusta Gregory

  • the marsh here belongs to WCW's "The Widow's Lament in Springtime," a marsh I return to often

  • the wifthing of bath's toothgap I obviously owe to Chaucer.

  • "note that mnu stands for maiden name unknown" is from the chart of the Salem accusations, "People Accused of

    Witchcraft in 1692 who are named in the Court Records," appendix 1 in Emerson Baker's A Storm of Witchcraft: The

    Salem Trials & the American Experience.

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Pattie McCarthy is the author of six books of poetry and a dozen chapbooks, most recently margerykempething and qweyne wifthing (eth press, 2017). She is nontenure track faculty at Temple University.