Two Poems by Megan Merchant


I’m reading the paper ballot
that pros and cons propositions

when my husband passes
through the kitchen—battle-clad

with oven mitts and Wellies—
headed to the garage. He laid long

squares of glue to catch the rat
that’s been gnawing on wires and

pebbling all over the cement floor.


(The thing about laying a live trap
is the unspoken agreement to witness

the struggle.)


There is a full moon and a shovel.
A blue plastic can where he buries

the scrapper, barely alive, saying
most likely he won’t last the night.

The can, at least, is a safe haven
from ravens and hawks. He was

fat, my husband says, as if to
explain—he was the alpha

kind of wild, hardy and smart.
What it takes to stay alive.


We crawl into the karma of our bed,
body-warm blankets, fresh sheets,

his hands scrubbed clean. Next time,
we agree, let’s build a better door.

One without the gapped invitation,
more careful about what we let inside.

The Art of Mindful Listening

I find a small red leaf
in the rocks, edges curled
like burnt paper.

I offer it as a gift.

My voice, a yellow light.

Your ears, a tin can.
Tongue, cicada shell

The baseline between
us—kindness. Thrums.

If you want to know
if there is a god,

ask the bright light
and cold.

Then allow the courtesy
of quiet to settle
between breaths.

You will learn to
speak the way a
wing needs wind.

Then, you will learn
how to glide.

Megan Merchant is mostly forthcoming. She is the author of two full-length poetry collections: Gravel Ghosts (available now through Glass Lyre Press) The Dark’s Humming (Winner of the 2015 Lyrebird Prize, Glass Lyre Press, forthcoming 2017), four chapbooks and a forthcoming children’s book with Philomel Books. She lives in the tall pines of Prescott, Arizona and teaches Mindfulness & Meditation at Prescott College. You can find out more about her at her website