Solid Quarter

Visit Trembling Pillow Press for poetry books, broadsides, chapbooks, and Solid Quarter Magazine.

Visit New Orleans Poetry Fest for the annual 4 day poetry festival directed by Bill Lavender and Megan Burns.

Megan Burns' Poeticsofbone&city project on Tumblr

Monday, May 03, 2021

All Mothers are Boats


All Mothers are Boats by Herbert Kearney

All Mothers are Boats 

-For Herbie Kearney


Yes, and we stood four mothers 

In each direction tending the fire on the levee

Enclosed by stones set heavy

By one who loves you & gathered

Us to say good bye, howling

To the skies, rent by time 

You flew from us, twenty seven minutes, she says 

While she waited down the hall, machines silencing 

Angel number of compassion, “for god damn

Humanity” you’d say, is what it burns down to

Our hearts flung open by breaking 

The measure of any line is who is listening 

Benevolent light you called them, as they danced

Near you, ejected from the sensory deprivation tank 

You built - “a failed experiment” —naked and trembling, babe

Trying in one life to give birth continuously, and to know 

It is the work that matters

That the work will get done 


the shores we arrive upon are always strange

yet feel familiar, edge of water to land

beyond death you speak, let go of hope & hold

on to faith—this ship of the dead 

you gifted us, oh, we have gathered there for years

& said good bye to love that leaves too soon, & now, now

dreamer— we sing for you

                          shorn of suffering     new born 

    the truth that even temporary         the spark created here shifts

           the whole plane of manifested life    

                            the work we do alone is us 

                                            & trembles through the universe

                                            & none of us, none of us leave

           this threading 

                             without shaping the whole net   


Monday, April 12, 2021

Ghost Birthdays

 Ghost Birthdays

For Dylan Burns, 1985-2014

No matter what it is, there is nothing that cannot be done.

-The Book of the Samurai

you are waiting in a field

you don’t know who you are waiting for

but you know 

   when they arrive   the wholeness of your life

         will bloom


let me tell you what i’ve collected here: suicide

      is not the choice to die

but the power to shape the days of those who love

you, in ways irreparable

& what we take from abandon 

            lives on in us 


the weight of the world is grief 

       we cart around 

                                       loose nets of drawn time, we dip in 

cast as stars across the universe

         to sing sibling 

from the crux of design  the threads that carry 


us                never far 


travel inside the auto carriers of traversed city, my love, for

ever is a word we pull up on the tongue without context


so much here convinces you to survive you must be hard 

but this softness of our feral hearts, that drumming sound

ancient as the rock that floats us, this creature aspect 

of open your palm and grasp what is given 

this is how you swim

the length of any river in your passing: you take in

and you take in, the light bouncing off the surface blinding

& you, a miracle told into the story, without end 

Tuesday, March 09, 2021

There is No Home

my life is channels of what i can survive 

a song composed of loneliness

all of this searching when you know 

you have to leave empty handed 

without sound, we watch love fold up like a wave

& crash into memory, how can you believe in what doesn’t hold

madness was just thinking you have a say 

you are an image viewed from very far away 

soft & out of focus

i am the silence that comes when i run out of language

to keep me safe 

if you can’t find your way out of a city 

is that the failure you churn into love 

& how many times will you tie yourself to a sinking ship

telling yourself being unmoored is worse

than drowning 

just about anyone can take you on a roof and make promises

they’ll never keep

you’ve heard this song a thousand times & the lyrics never change 

Wednesday, March 03, 2021

Snow Moon

New Orleans is a shipwreck masquerading as a city

it hovers, horizon of worn time

i would lay down in fields of warm settings & if the moon

says i need you, cresting the rooftops of abandon 

where we travel to be able to breathe & below sea level still

high enough up & you can see the whole bend in the river

ghost barges stirring up February fog round the edges of their cut paths

call & response from the next roof over, we’re all out here leaving 

something behind, write my name on it for a lifetime, for this life 

folded into you, the way some of us get left out of the picture 

crosses the choice that some of us leave on our own if love

isn’t what you think it is: You’ll never be as free as when 

you let go of all you think you’ve learned here

asphalt shingles held us to a gripping, if you want to be inside me

under that full moon, we need to be high enough 

that i can see my city, the way i tied my life to her

the way i could come up under her, a rushing of water

is where my life spooled out, a rushing of wanting to feel everything 

there are types of desire that undo you, then there are types of wanting 

that carry you far enough to find them— some of us live in the interstices 

knowing all of this is temporary, steal what you can carry  

plunder the rest 

Monday, February 01, 2021

Time is Always the Crossroad

in 15 days my brother dies again, time is illusory

disasters shape language, once we were water line 

now we are abandon of a season that shapes our survive

in 15 days, the city will be lost of traditions that float us shore

to shore, we who thrive in the chaos of undone for each day numbered

a costume, a song, the way we arrive at the river in droves and will 

you play for me, will you dance with me, have you ever hungered so much 

in your life for a city as i have hungered for her to be reborn, repeatedly

in 15 days we take the shape of mourning, i don’t know everything suicide 

can do yet, i don’t know everything loss can be, i don’t know if holding ‘

together is a possibility, but here we go out on this lonely flight of what else 

can we drop into those waters, palms painted morning light & for every death, 

some life clings to us, or else we would have to admit we can’t see 

at all. Can we admit it? Can we convince grief that timing matters, or is it true 

every song cannot be unsung, so deep in the threading, is the walk we take at dawn

from the house to the river, and my brother will be there walking from our mother’s house 

to our father’s where he will get the gun, will you lay me down to sleep, for every walking 

wake we keep, i am never alone now. Ever i am with you in time, we travel doubly bound 

find me near the shore on the morning of no Mardi Gras and i will show you how it looks  

to carry all of it, angel of break, to poet is to never heal completely, for i would hold 

until there is no shape, till the burns of time erase, the flood inside me sharp with learning 

in 15 days, ask me what it means to crossroad these deepest pains, for that too we sing. 

Monday, January 18, 2021


For those that think they are monstrous, i speak for you
Uncanny we wade, so water a trembling sign for will you
                 uncaring in outcomes but i did want to be shattered 

You can’t have everything and they mean it when you find 
Having traveled far to seek some answers you end up inside the box 
                  Tell me what your wish is, little girl 

We have to suspend belief that beauty can love such horror show
But, birdy, we fly don’t we, when loved, when you get to be one
                  of the lucky ones 

You have to remember we come from this island of misfit 
It’s not like you can just locate New Orleans on a map 
                   inside you there is this breaking that never ends

I thought you could see me in all of this mess, inside this chaos
I fell a victim to this dream, that you spoke the words i choose 
                   Too and listen, little echo, little warbling chest space 

All my life has been less than, and less than that to hold on to
Try to bargain even now, let it be this last time to get it right somehow 
                   that merry go round moving so fast and you think what 

Is real in a movie about our future selves, plastic trinkets pawned to history 
We of the B sides, the news bytes, the recycling data of gossip 
                   Tell me what am i surviving since love is off the table 

Whatever darkness darkens, and i am there. Wherever fate is forgotten, waves
Lap from memory and it is a thing they do, like us continuing, as if we should
                    Time takes us anyway so what matter you chose never to try 

Is it true, if no one wants to hold on to you
You fly away, in one’s city, broken apart, is it true really
                     That you never really cared at all if i was here with you 


Friday, January 15, 2021

Carnal Evaluation


I am about to make the other speak.


Nor did the war ever end, i could not stop the flow 

Bled out, i colored the right bright love of the red winged blackbird 

Best believe in the magic of— pier roped our separate water crafts

In calm waters and spent, smeared lipstick stains cloud shape 

On the interior of the mouth coverings, falling in space

Like love, garners a series of questions 

Participation in the others’ hallucination of you 

Line the poem with broken facts

Each heart a haunted place, be not what leaps if leaps 

Confused, fashioned as monsters of old 

Every tree trimmed with faces, a sadness 

Always remember the brokenness i tucked under 

This necessary keep: What is your allegiance to

To be an American poet, the response of the nation 

If you know what you are is better than what you want 

Space is negotiated by resources, the way the lines of the poem 

Take the place of where we would have been real to one another 

I think sometimes if you would just call my name out loud 

Like that story, the whole world could begin again 

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Yet the Frame Held

When the pitch falls, who sings for you 

To have a new feeling in the hopelessness of now

& no outside of nature, memory is how we keep time 

Flowing, the constant and i would wait for you 

Power is the dream of consciousness mattering 

You take your bones out and form them into a cave

A wander in the shadow of play till we make slaughter

A normal every day entertainment and when the experiment 

Goes black, what is the echo of could you pull me back, cornered

i see the walls of structure, ghosted remnants where we curled our signs

i existed once upon a story in the well of caught light, in the mornings

Of sorrow where you are not, in the burst dam of i broke through 

The smallness of my own wanting, and i came here to be with you

Again and again, till the quiet overtakes us. If we write what is already 

Understood, we stay rooted to this terror, i would ask impossibility

and call it love. i am asking you to architect your escape from progress 

for we shall sing of things not yet come and of things of the past

we shall let the water of language wash it away. 

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Raw Towns


For Bill Lavender

In the heart of deep hearts, no voodoo dolls

The shape of days, the hours we met and disappear, time

So fast it takes your breath away, how you can build a city 

But still be a stranger in it, the way a story of a man floating in flood

Waters in a plastic pool will image carve into the crenellations 

We call recollected history, in one lifetime you will have conversations

Barely recalled and words that turn swiftly the whole course & we 

Gather here, patchwork defense mirroring, look i have unthreaded 

The straight and narrow paths of arrival and departure: I would bet

Infinity in symbolic play, the truth of how any art meets and stabilizes 

The future namings, you were the only person who dared say it

That maybe it was worth it to abandon the safe measures of prescriptions 

That kept me numbed to wanting to die, imagined the length of travel 

Insanity must venture & if love is not our place than why do we come here

If love is not how we see one another, why are we paying attention 

I shed every safety net designed to cage in a whisper of what 

Could your mind be missing, to be set apart from self possession 

Campbell says, is the point of participation in a festival, the ritual 

Of disassociation masks so fine, and even in the knowing that 

We wear it, we revel in the apparition of this mythic state 

This state of how we crumble from fearsome field to invulnerable 

Abandoned structures, the shape of belief trembled along the loose 

Sounds unspoken for in any quantum reality, once there is

there is no undoing, the error of our lives was never 

Sleep’s frail hold or survival in the margins, it was 

Never seeing clearly how deeply the coding we designed seeped

The barycenter pulls the eye to a centered light but the burning 

Of that bright, unequivocal eye is as gentle as the sound of breathing 

Not to go gently, but that we do not go is the line’s off course entry 

Friday, January 08, 2021

Stand Closer


i bet this place is a bone silent whistling 

under stars, the vowels of time, a constant 

we made it this far but not very far from where we started

from up there, the horizon is a tone less 

like i sd, we’re going the wrong way driving away from it

every poem is a trying to steal, i let you wheel 

turned up, i ask what i can of you

if i show you this childhood, what does it seem 

neighborhood drowned but my memory sharps against 

i was hungry so long in this life 

held inside, does love become a burden 

blunt mouthed to stop speech, the corners of this living

fold down, i do and do not see you clearly 

when you say i know more people who’ve died 

who wins that standing, there were more photographs 

than hours and more ways to never say what we mean 

if we could just stay driving and never arrive, if we could 

umbrella softest bits, struck match tip, it was this need inside 

me to choose burning over ever just making it home 

Wednesday, January 06, 2021

Kiosks of No Returns


Kiosk of No Returns


surive just about everything & you’ll end up at the mall

near the end of the movie,


when my grandmother died, i spoke at her funeral about how she was a painter and she said, you don’t paint the tree, you paint the space around the tree. she never said that. i am the poet & in grief, we near everything called living, we round it, do not go to places dangerous when there is a safe space to wander


you sent me this photograph while i was taking a bath

i lay there every night in this pandemic




terrified of what comes next & who is gonna die. & am i

my children, my parents,  you

how can you ask me to love in this place & we don’t


we go to spaces of abandon 

to still the terror: Look, here’s a picture of a dying mall in



                              h  o m e    ofthe     f  r  e e         

            i want to tell someone of this fear  but who has 


any more room to hold it      whose lap can you sit on 

say, what i want 

what i want

what i want 


is to be sure again, of why we built any of this. why we needed any of this. remind me why we crawled up out of the swamps for this excess of speed and glutton and was it to perfect suffering. have we reached that shore yet. have we designed it so perfectly we can’t ever go back or forward, but stay here taped off, an arrow marker to the place where you belong, and we’ve got the best prices in town. 


you’ve got to fill the frame with our obelisks and titans to consumerism. ephemera of pleasures that filled us once. now we are empty display cases. now we are hand sanitizer to remind us how we broke off, our fossil beauty in beige and tan tiles for miles of smiles…. how did we know desire. what was left to discover here. we pushed beyond temporary till disposal was the birth of this nation, i sing of thee.

Photograph by Todd White