John Wrote to Me, Honey; Words that Fell from the Sky; Reasons to Stay; “sweet william,” June; Our Lucky, or Unlucky Lost-

John Wrote to Me, Honey

come home & notice
word & meaning of 

ink is blue: notice how
words glide, one 

by one, how a word 
walks into town . . . 

amandum “loving”—how 
words mutter, it’s raining &

wonder why wind = air vs. wind = turn

& notice world class word,
effortless & pitch-

perfect, hyperbole happy (thankee
koindly, sir) & many happy 

returns & aren’t they awfully 
pretty? words unbound like 

child-voiced Dada, allgone, look— 
& see world in word—

It was John who wrote this to me.
Words that Fell from the Sky 

Well, I just stopped thinking 
should have.  Just stopped.  You know 

you could call this not being afraid 
to live with or without you, remembering 

the angle we held our pens, along the length 
of our fingers & the height & base 

of what we wrote as the weight of it 
ran dry into the words we pressed 

into the next page, turning like a page 
turns or bending like a spine bends 

& sometimes wanting to be not 
turning, not bending & the older 

we get this is what we are, or should be,  
living as if now was never going to be (flowering 

in back of us down the street) over.
Reasons to Stay

He landed in the slush pile
for sale with her and the glad 

bags, the stars & the moon—Do I 
tell, do I tell, do I tell?—  They’ll tell you

he brought her perfume for fire, 
& for blue stone, broken sky, 

with an eye on to stay, to lift his eyes 
to the last horizon, turning toward 

home, he thought, included her, 
and he drove solo no longer 

on the crisscross highway into what goes by.
sweet william, June

Once, it seemed, her life depended on naming them:  
sweet william, June; obedience, August; black-eyed susans, 

all morning, a bride smokes in her bed.  She will not 
dance or put on her veil.  And so, her mother pours tea 

for her. She refuses milk, sugar—the dog 
shits the floor. She says everything will die if 

she doesn’t water it. She’s convinced she’ll burn 
in her sleep, so she’s taken apart the stove 

to put out the pilot light.  I won’t be going anywhere, 
she tells her mother, I’m happy enough.  
And later, 

         	. . . at the wedding feast, God sees 
	everything: common rosemary, whiskey mac—
	her mother’s empty glass, her father filling it.  
                          And all the guests dancing.
Our Lucky, or Unlucky Lost—

of whom we ever speak.  Each & I
& more than I, my prayers, recount 

the time when I postponed a world 
for Ohio, a city for a house, a house

for a mechanic, a child for a girl, falling,   
unhurt—she should end up with us 

& I turn to remember as I recall, I do:   
In this attic-shock of memories—it’s nothing

but history, at the beginning of the day, 
on Monday, only a day.  It leaves us with 

good Friday minutes & tale-spin stress, 
odds & ends of heaven.  Is that you?  Is that 

who, where, you are?  Searching your phone, 
happy into who, into what? To leave you 

alone—to call me with any.  


Ellen McHugh is a former adjunct instructor of English Composition at Lakeland Community College in Kirtland, Ohio; while teaching at Lakeland, she also served on the editorial staff of the school’s online literary journal, the Chagrin River Review. She holds an MA in English from Cleveland State University; several of her poems have been published in Cleveland State’s Whiskey Island magazine. Presently, she works as a registered nurse at John Carroll University’s Student Health Center, prior to this, as an emergency room nurse at Cleveland Clinic, Euclid Hospital.