Unwelcomed Guest


poems by

Nancy Richardson

Poetry chapbook, 40 pages. Cover price: $11

($9 if ordered from the MSR Online Bookstore)

ISBN: 978-1-59948-424-2

Release date: June 11, 2013.




Nancy Richardson

Nancy Richardson received her MFA in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts in 2005. She has published several poems in journals and anthologies. Her work has appeared in Calyx, Dogwood, Mobius, and in Teaching the Art of Poetry. In her work, Nancy has focused on poetry that responds to the places where the personal and political intersect. These poems are located in the rust-belt of Ohio in the mid- 1970s, when economic and political forces combined to produce compelling stories. Included in the chapbook are poems about the shootings of students at Kent State University. Nancy holds Masters and Ph.D degrees from Kent State University and a Masters Degree from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. She lives and writes in Vermont.

The poems of Nancy Richardson emanate from the crossroads of personal circumstance-parents, childhood, lovers-and public history-a city in northeast Ohio, the events we call “Kent State.” What results in the poems is quietly powerful emotion, fraught yet gleaming with the unapologetic power of life itself, the tangled mystery of what we want and what we receive.

-Baron Wormser


The 1972 Kent State shootings, the pinned specimen bodies of butterflies, a dying mother–Nancy Richardson’s poems bring grace and a beautiful poignancy to these and other matters. Absolutely lovely!

–Nance Van Winckel

Youngstown, Ohio 1952

I climbed the hill on my green Schwinn
at dusk when the air cleared enough
for me to see the fevered flush
of the open hearth on the horizon.

Tomorrow, it would rain ashes on
our ’52 Chevy. Later on a field trip
to the mill, I walked on a catwalk
above the open mouth.

The runoff hardened into steel squares–
the sour taste of ash played on my tongue.
The men in hard hats were so close their
sweat turned to powder on their faces.

The cast heat rose and billowed my skirt
out in a small suspended parachute.
Later, on a blanket in the backyard,
I floated in the haze that wanting makes,

beyond the yard, beyond, the gray sun,
imagining a clear trajectory.



How does it feel to be always searching
the blue-black horizon for the slightest

movement, starving for the next
best thing? Lonely in the dark, do you

find the moon a comfort or do you want
the cold of snowdrift

the un-followable trail? I knew
a man like you once who could only

see at a distance. The slightest speck
on the horizon and his eyes

disappeared in pools of black ice.
One day at my door he turned

like an arrow moving away fast,
seeking its next target.



He didn’t come with us to catch them.
We were to bring them back,

gently lift them with soft fingers
from the sack of the net and lower

their folded bodies into the killing jar,
so as not to damage their wings,

which were holding more air than skin.
Small particles caught on our fingers,

dusted our eyelids with yellow and blue
translucent powder, as they fluttered,

danced in the naphthalene bower.
Their stiff bodies locked up their wings

as though they were saving something.
He explained how we should move quickly

pin them to the board, so out-stretched
they would give the illusion of flight

under the glass of the frames he put them in.
Who knows what he heard in their wings.

Dozens of small engines, flutterings
of swallowtails, the skittering sound of wires

being pried apart and beyond ?

If you would like to read more of Unwelcomed Guest by Nancy Richardson, order your copy today.

SKU: 978-1-59948-424-2 Category: Tag:


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