Three Poems by J. G. McClure

Write a Dream, Lose a Reader

Suddenly I remembered the two huge pigs
I’d been keeping as pets in my studio

and hadn’t seen for weeks. I called
and called here pigs and they came

covered in bedsores, their fur (they had fur)
gone in clumps. Each had a collar & nametag

that read WORKER, a relic from the farm
from which I must have saved them

and where I was beginning to realize
they’d have been much happier than

under my bed, where they’d gone
to sleep or die without me. You see,

I too was a worker, away all day to create
little pamphlets on risk management

and labor costs and heavy-duty scuppers,
neglecting to love or walk or feed them;

now all I could do for penance was
board my rowboat and push off alone

into the nightblack sea. O Ellie, Ellie—
I’ve lost you as I lost them,

and I’m sorry you’re the pig in this conceit.
Forgive me: I too was the pig, and you

the dark place I could not be found.
In penance, now, I paddle out

toward the non-sequitur squall.


The boats asleep beneath their tarps,
the sky unreachable and low.
We’re wobbling on the dock: sharp

white moonlight lights the ruddy glow
of bourboned faces. The waves
aren’t waiting till we leap to throw

themselves against the pier—we say
like hell we’ll back out now, and slide
our bodies from their clothes to brave

the bugs, the cold, the unknown sight
of one another huddled bare:
the taut forbidden shivering white

of bellies, fine-trimmed pubic hair,
the straight-up stance of nothing left
unseen. And then the plunge to where

our senses drown, swallowed and swept
out by indifferent tide. Deep
beneath, the guiltless glacial drift
of sleeping fish the moon can’t reach.

Self Portrait in Triolet

Inside your body is a broken hinge: your voice
the sound it makes as it strains to open.
You’d crush her again if you had the choice.
You’re broken. The universe hinges on your little voice,
or so you like to think, though you’re a noise
among noises. You’re at your best when you’re unspoken.
So be nobody. Shut up the hinge, your voice,
the sound it makes. Good. Now do not open.

McClureJ. G. McClure is a poet from North Carolina and holds an MFA from the University of California – Irvine. His work appears in Best New Poets 2015, Gettysburg Review, Green Mountains Review, Town Creek Poetry, and The Southern Poetry Anthology, among others. He is the Craft Essay Editor and Assistant Poetry Editor of Cleaver, and is at work on his first collection. See more at