Jill McDonough


Jill McDonough’s books of poems include Habeas Corpus (Salt, 2008), Where You Live (Salt, 2012), and Reaper (Alice James, 2017). The recipient of three Pushcart prizes and fellowships from the Lannan Foundation, NEA, NYPL, FAWC, and Stanford, her work appears in The Threepenny Review and Best American Poetry. She teaches in the MFA program at UMass-Boston and directs 24PearlStreet, the Fine Arts Work Center online. Her fifth poetry collection, Here All Night, is forthcoming from Alice James Books.



East Village. Susan and I are walking by
John Derian. A man in a red and white
luchador mask approaches, which makes me smile.
I smile at the luchador. Luchador keeps
walking, mask reflected in shop windows.
He says You Ladies Are Looking Pretty Today!
I keep smiling. He passes, says I'd Like
To Fuck You Both! How Much?!
We all keep walking.
Susan and I stop smiling, raise eyebrows toward
each other. She whispers, Do we get to keep
the mask?
But what I want to know is how
I’ll hold his severed head up, if I can't grab
it by the hair. I guess I'll grab the laces
at the back. In my head, I have a sword.
It's sharp, and his still-masked head is off
now, rolling here and there, a Holofernes
of First Avenue, stopping to bleed
into the dog-shit-studded pools of East
Village rain at our feet. I describe this scene
while we walk. Rage makes us feel better,
and we are back in our own selves again.