The American Journal of Poetry
"Strong Rx Medicine"®


Mary Jo Thompson



I picture myself a bubble and you
the plastic wand, and I cry at the sting

of iodine, and roll down steep hills.
I drink all summer

from the backyard hose. I want
to pour ink down my brother’s back.

We walk like drunks. I can’t stand
the smell of old people.

Pulling their dandelions, I rub
the yellow stain on my throat, leave

the roots. When Father hangs a tire swing
I jump off. We all play war.

Some others who couldn’t say
I hope they’re with you. Mike thought

the river friendly when the water roared.
So many years of my life he’s lain buried

with his small accordion. I dread
our same birthday, especially

when the moon makes the thin-lipped
smile. When will I forget

how to swallow, how to throw the ball
back over the roof?

I’m lonely tonight. I’m a jukebox, praying—

Don’t think twice, it’s all right




MARY JO THOMPSON is the author of Stunt Heart (Backwaters Press, 2017), winner of the 2016 Backwaters Poetry Prize, selected by Henri Cole. Her poetry is anthologized in The Best American Poetry, 2011 and Another and Another, Bull City Press, and has appeared in Beloit Poetry Journal, Field, Prairie Schooner, The Missouri Review, The North American Review, Rhino, Indiana Review, Spillway, and Carolina Quarterly, among other journals. Thompson holds a MFA in Creative Writing from the Program for Writers at Warren Wilson and teaches teachers and arts managers at two universities in Minneapolis. She lives on an island in the Mississippi River.



Previous | Next