Sheila-Na-Gig online


Marc Swan

Marc Swan’s latest collection, all it would take, was published in May 2020 by tall-lighthouse Poems forthcoming in Nerve Cowboy, Floyd County Moonshine, The Naugatuck Review, among others. He lives in coastal Maine with his wife Dd. His collection, today can take your breath away is available from Sheila-Na-Gig Editions:


A bald eagle, winged guardian
of this tree-lined waterway,
three of us below paddling
along the shore,
midday sun beating down,
a warm breeze knocks around
attacking greenheads,
our eyes shift
to the bird of prey
perched high,
talons poised,
with that perfect vision they have
waiting for a ripple
or a shift in the flow.
We paddle on
and when we turn, he is gone
without a sound.
Two hours on the water,
thoughts of viral infection,
political uncertainty,
changes in our health
and well-being
dissipate like soft rain on hot stone.

On the Rails

I look at the photo: hair cropped
short, yours tinted red, rain drizzling
like Seattle or Portland Oregon, steady

like a fact of life accepted, understood.
We’d left Vienna in the rain on the day
I scattered their ashes in the Danube,

no band played, a few gulls soared,
dawn light ashen gray, the water
angry and churning, our hovercraft had

cancelled. We were back on the rails.
I can’t remember if it was Buda or Pest
where we arrived, twenty-four years is a long

time for an overloaded memory bank. I do
remember the crowd in the terminal, signs
held high: rooms for rent, tours, nearby

cafes. I saw a few Roma in long colorful
skirts and kerchiefs moving easily through
the throng. One with a sign that read Bosnia.

In the Budapesti metro, a scowling woman
held a sheet of toilet paper in one hand, her
other hand reaching for the five forint coin.

Later on the train to Szolnok, we passed
small home after small home, each with
a cow, maybe a few chickens, and a still

for pálinka behind each home. In the
train’s toilet, I watched the tracks fly
by underneath the missing seat.


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