“Uppity Young Women Exit Your Zenana” by Michael McDonough

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Uppity Young Women Exit Your Zenana

A comfortable establishment, attentive staff, occasional
whiffs of inoffensive R&B,
sign over stage: Dancing Not Permitted.

Crystallography, a telescope manned by Jesuits
vibrates osmium air, suspends animal, rides
ungenerous reply— girl not quite little:

“they don’t even look at you
when you speak to them!” Calm,
lashed gaze beyond kicking distance respects

mutual fence: an A’s a neigh,
but also a sawhorse, eh? bipedal
trellis, a maze play called zoo,

horsebladder strafing abyssal current, swimming ears
shot by sound, nervous laughter, individual.
Floorboards creak, four horses with T-shirt

bodies, featherduster manes, vinyl guitars, I ♡
Sharpie Tattoos: “Study what you most
affect.” All meanings in the dictionary

dogmas without threat, 1000 monks debating
in a field, finding a word,
clapping, reaching out, dancing: boys tussle

to color yak cheese, grass, sky:
glass rose broken, an audience given
the space we are suddenly in.


Michael McDonough is a resume writer living in Long Island and a regular contributor to Coldfront. He received his MFA from The New School and his BA from Bard College. His poetry has appeared in The Agriculture ReaderThe Corresponding Society Journal, and the forthcoming P&Q Press anthology, Bridging New York.