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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
Brookshire had come to work second shift
at Walker Manufacturing the day it opened

and stayed until the recession shut it down
a dozen years later.  He was an end finisher,

six-foot-four and strong enough to hang
the bent and welded tailpipes and mufflers

on a fast-moving chain that would loop them
through a
poem
Q
U’s mate, O with a new root,
the one capital letter
which probes below the base line,
here’s to the quirky beauty

of its tail, that fluent tongue
stuck from a wide-open mouth,
that elegant half-mustache
parted quickly toward the east,

that antique handle we grasp
to lift up the monocle
of
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