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About this poet

Michael McFee received a BA in 1976 and an MA in 1978, both from the University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill.

He is the author of numerous poetry collections, including We Were Once Here (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2017), Shinemaster (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2006), and Plain Air (University Presses of Florida, 1983). He is also the author of two essay collections, including The Napkin Manuscripts: Selected Essays and an Interview (University of Tennessee Press, 2006).

Of his work, Kathryn Stripling Byer writes, “Michael McFee’s voice gravitates toward place, its complications and cast iron realities.”

A recipient of the 2009 James Still Award for Writing about the Appalachian South, McFee teaches at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.


Selected Bibliography

Poetry

We Were Once Here (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2017)
That Was Oasis (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2012)
Shinemaster (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2006)
Earthly (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2001)
Colander (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 1996)
Sad Girl Sitting on a Running Board (Gnomon Press, 1991)
Vanishing Acts (Gnomon Press, 1989)
Plain Air (University Presses of Florida, 1983)

Prose
Appointed Round (Mercer University Press, 2018)
The Napkin Manuscripts: Selected Essays and an Interview (University of Tennessee Press, 2006)

Clotheslines

The lines sag deeper and deeper with sweet wet gossip. 
The clever pins do headstands all day, jaws clenched.

My parents preached the virtues of clothes dried outside. 
Dryers are a rich man's fad, the static can kill you.

A Halloween of underwear, haunting the neighborhood. 
The socks' threadbare parody of Christmas morning.

The shirts surrender, they pray, they are crucified. 
The hung pants stiffen like casts in the hungry sun.

I press out their rigor mortis with Gothic devotion. 
I polish the clothes with the day's lost water and heat.

My parents were well dressed the last time I saw them. 
The basket feels fuller and lighter as I walk back in.

Copyright © 1996 Michael McFee. From Colander (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 1996) by Michael McFee. Used with permission of the author.

Copyright © 1996 Michael McFee. From Colander (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 1996) by Michael McFee. Used with permission of the author.

Michael McFee

Michael McFee

Michael McFee is the author of numerous poetry collections, including We Were Once Here (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2017). He lives in North Carolina.

by this poet

poem
Its perpendicular
tilted, falling forward,
 
this oblique stroke
between lines of verse
 
or fractions’ numbers
or month/day/year
 
separates & connects
parts of some whole:
 
its diagonal
poem
Four lanes over, a plump helium heart—

slipped, maybe, from some kid’s wrist
or a rushed lover’s empty passenger seat

through a half-cracked car window—

rises like a shiny purple cloudlet
toward today’s gray mess of clouds,

trailing its gold ribbon like lightning

that will never strike anything
or anyone
poem
My mouth won’t ever forget her skill with a skillet,
my father’s mother, cooking
with her mother’s skillet.

Looking deep into its heavy antique mirror, I see
her wedding day: white dress
and this coal-dark skillet.

Heaven was bacon’s sizzle waking my ears and nose.
Or was it one of her chickens 
slow-frying