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2013 Poetry Issue

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Third place

We thought delayed-gratification was a single word
by Mary Hennessy

My blue-eyed daddy
caught hard in the thicket of a Nebraska
morning.

Mom, raucous and funny
not one false thing between the two of them
except maybe me.

Not a moment of guile.
Later nine of us around
the supper table and one chicken.

We knew hunger but
would have called it
something different—

something luckier.

"Delayed-gratification" is drawn crisp and sharp by the observation of the poet, but it's sweet and secretive too, keeping its charms half-concealed. The "blue-eyed daddy" and the good-humored Mom keep their own counsel, and the voice of the narrator senses and sorts out the world of secrets and order from the small perch of childhood between these two formidable figures. One rides the poem's subtly broken lines into the middle-mystery of the story and, finally, into the heart of a particular kind of language––one well acquainted with gratitude and sacrifice. This is a poem full of careful pleasures. —Laura Jaramillo

Mary Hennessy - PHOTO BY JEREMY M. LANGE
  • Photo by Jeremy M. Lange
  • Mary Hennessy

Mary Hennessy is a retired nurse whose career included tending to wounded Vietnam veterans. After she retired, the Raleigh resident went back to school, obtaining a bachelor's degree in English at N.C. State, where she met first place winner McNamara. Hennessy's poems have long found outlets and acclaim—she's active in the North Carolina Poetry Society, and she has twice placed in this paper's poetry contest, most recently in 2002.

Once a month, she hosts McNamara and another writer, and they work on their poems together. "We each bring a poem we're working on, or have just finished," Hennessy says. "We read them, listening for lines that take us out of the poem, things like that."

But it's not all work. They also make time for chocalates and hot beverage—and the occasional champagne: Recently, McNamara brought over a bottle to celebrate their respective successes with the N.C. Poetry Society contests.

For more information about the NCPS, visit ncpoetrysociety.org.

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