The Sunday Poem: Don McIver... Daily Special

Don McIver is on duty. His eyes are open. He is keeping the watch, even if he can't do much about what he sees.

McIver is a 4 time member of the ABQ slam team, the host/producer of KUNM's Spoken Word Hour, the author of The Noisy Pen, and a co-editor of A Bigger Boat: the Unlikely Success of the Albuquerque Slam Scene. A teacher by trade, he works at Central New Mexico Community College. The banner photo above is by the late ABQ poet Jimmy Townes.

Daily Special
To the woman who works Central from Maple to University.

As I fill her "to go" cup with ice, I wonder . . .
Does she recognize me?
And as I give her the cup, I want to say,
"Are you okay?

Have you heard the morning call of birds,
the blown rain on top of rain fly,
the lazy sighing of Aspen and Pine
in the late May breeze,
the still, methodical rushing of river water running down?
Have you seen the threesome of chipmunks scurry over brush,
loose volcanic tuft,
indian paint brush,
and raven scat?
the full moon streak the cloudy sky
and watched the gray undefined cirrus clouds move in
and paint
the sky
a shade of slate?
Have you heard birds
or seen words
swooping overhead?"

And as she takes the cup from me, I want to ask,
"Are you okay?"
Because your mascara doesn't seem to be coming together
in the corner of your eyes like I know you like it.
And the dirty Levi's that you wore just the other day
look a little bit more scuffed
and slipping off your waist,
reveal a crooked ladder
of stretch marks
and a second pair of exercise pants
underneath the dirty Levi's.
As you rub the track marks on your arm,
your hands are shaking.
Fingernails bitten to the quick,
as you take the cup from me
and you never

Daughter, lover, sister, mother, friend,
life has yet to fill your cup
and all I can give
is ice.

--Don McIver

Poetry submissions are most welcome. Email

Views: 129

Comment by Gina M on August 22, 2010 at 7:33pm
this poem says so much about being human. we miss so many opportunities to be compassionate. i can appreciate this poem and the careful observation for the woman. she is seen. somebody notices her mascara, (that is a great line). she is given a cup of ice. she has a daily routine. it is rather desolate, feels close to being void. as i ponder her circumstance, i am happy to be in my tidy kitchen reading this poem on my laptop. i feel very lucky.

i love the photo in the tub.

wonderful to read your poem here,
Comment by larry goodell on August 22, 2010 at 8:58pm
thanks Don, the specifics winning out in the music of the poem, kind of a portrait that brings to my mind Ginsberg's Bag Lady poem . . .
Comment by Merimee Moffitt on August 23, 2010 at 8:50am
nice, Don---really a nice poem, lovely. Good medicine you are sending out to those who walk this scary path. I love to hear blatant compassion in a voice . . . thank you for this healing poem.
Comment by Stacey K on August 25, 2010 at 11:16am
I like this poem a lot Don. The only thing that makes me the last part, "Daughter, lover, sister, mother, friend". She may have once been this to someone, but somehow was forgotten, or brushed under the rug. I think being addicted to drugs, esp. heroin, helps you forget how alone you really her she might be no one. I don't know. This poem left me thinking....and that's what I like about it. Thank you for not forgetting her!


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