If I Could Write You a Happier Ending | Mary Warren Foulk

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Mary Warren Foulk has been published in VoiceCatcher, Cathexis Northwest Press, Yes Poetry, Arlington Literary Journal (Gival Press), The Hollins Critic, Los Angeles Poet Society, El Portal, Pine Hills Review, Palette Poetry, Visitant, Silkworm, and Steam Ticket among other publications. Her work also has appeared in (M)othering Anthology (Inanna Publications) and My Loves: A Digital Anthology of Queer Love Poems (Ghost City Press). Mary has attended several writing workshops and conferences, including The Writers Studio and AWP events. She recently won the "Teach! Write! Play!" fellowship to the Martha's Vineyard Institute of Creative Writing and her poem "The Inventory of Fumbling" received first place honors. Her manuscript Erasures of My Coming Out (Letter) won first place in The Poetry Box’s 2021 chapbook contest. Her poem “portrait of a queer as a young boy” has been nominated for the 2021 Best of the Net Anthology. She has also been a recipient of an NEH grant. A graduate of the MFA Writing program at Vermont College of Fine Arts, Mary lives in western Massachusetts with her wife and children. She is an educator, writer, and activist.



The Show Must Go On

I found this line
blurred on a faded post-it, thin as a Julep
mint, between folds
of your wallet so broken
at the leather seams. A simple inheritance,
your lingering refrain.

The Show Must Go On,
a forgotten fragment
of weighted legacy.
This spring twilight
I have smelled the bourbon
crafted by our Virginia gentleman
in cut glass over ice crushed
and enveloped by young mint.

I have heard the echo of Mother’s fraught
urging, the generations’ monogram,
to “grasp the frosted pewter,”
you and I both fallen branches
of the family tree, so bitter-
sweet the never-quite-fitting—

never-quite-able to play the part.
We found ourselves stateless, preferring
Pinot, and there was your murmur…
The Show Must Go On,
this remembering, a selection,
omission, loss of longed for details.

Drunken laughter at our inherited dysfunctions,
those late Sunday afternoons at our East Village café.
Sweetest sibling language,
like two debutantes drinking wistfully,
cigarette smoke curling around resonant words,
now a bourbon-less

brother-less world,
fatal consequence of a narrow closet.
What foretold your final curtain call?
How the streetlight framed your face,
your dimming stage lights,
one lasting reminder.

The Show Must Go On,
however slurred
and bitter as mint.


Author Photo Credit:  Jay Miller-Foulk, she/they