Janet McNally is author of the young adult novel Girls in the Moon (HarperCollins), and a collection of poems, Some Girls, winner of the White Pine Press Poetry Prize. She has an MFA from the University of Notre Dame, and has twice been a fiction fellow with the New York Foundation for the Arts. Janet teaches creative writing at Canisius College.
2 poems by Janet McNally
From Questions About Animals
What is the most dangerous animal?
What happens when you carry a whole
ocean inside your ribcage?
What if you’re shimmered
into glitter and shake?
They say I’m made of stars
but I feel like a furnace. Marching band
drum-beat, headlights tracing walls.
Knockout rose in sunshine, blind
tuber buried deep. I’m leftover
whisper, deadfall hush. I only know
how to wish, how to open, how
to blow away. I’m seasick, star-sided,
lit up electric blue. I’m just telling you
so you understand the risk.
A tripwire heart
won’t come when you call her.
I’ll never teach you not to want.
Why can’t animals survive on Jupiter?
You wore radiation like a coat
and the stars rained silver.
Walking was like walking
on tacks. When I opened
my mouth the air was
elsewhere, and all that sparkle
was sidewalk grit. You might have
thought it was hydrogen.
You might have forgotten
how to leave. It happens,
sometimes, this interplanetary
euphoria. It’s a sort of lifting off.
Listen: there’s a lot of time left
or there isn’t. Some storms
take millennia to calm. All I know is,
once we started, we couldn’t stop,
kept spinning in an orbit
too hard to escape.
You promised me something else.
My breath is still. My heart is still