Review: How to Have a Day by Megan McShea (reviewed by CarlaJean Valluzzi)

How to HaveHow to Have a Day

by Megan McShea

200 pages

Ink Press Productions, 2015










It’s not as if marking the moment would mean something, but it would make it seem to mean something1.


This is a book.
This is a door.
This is a . . . day.


Opening this book is like finding a big house all lit up at the end of a long, dark road.  Approach.  Climb the porch steps, worn from those who’ve ventured here before, and notice the single moth circling the bare bulb.  Place an inquisitive hand on the brass knob and twist.  This is when you’ll realize time might be parted like waves2.

You’re not going to find anyone you know on the other side, but you might hear their echo.  And there are so many rooms, each one brimming with the kind of details we often refer to (mistakenly) as small.  Small things rarely get their due.  Consider the atom.  Each autonomous small contributes itself to the all, and each poem in Megan McShea’s collection, How to Have a Day (Ink Press Productions, 2015), does so with an unassuming fortitude—the result is a tiny tome that murmurs from the back pocket, vibrates on its own seductive frequency, you’ve just got to train your ear to hear it.  Urge yourself toward a calculated lingering3 so as not to miss one of the constant oiled references4, a chirp trigger5 or a still breaking {sic} out6

Soon, the walls have fallen away and now there is only one large room, which must be round because nothing is hidden in a corner—every totem is humbly on display: pigeon toes7 and thimbles8, a rewarding oyster9 and a broke (not broken) candelabra10.  A slight non-native tension blooms in the cracks between visions.

An acute awareness of the passing of time becomes apparent, in and out of varying contexts, without the sense of a struggle against it.  On the contrary, its untamability is embraced, exalted even.  The tables and devices that mete it out are public, irrefutable11 harbingers of the hapless gaps . . . the trick that jogs the memory12.

A travelogue of dailies is compiled: sweating, eating, bathing, driving, dancing; so suggestive within the ring of its miniature ambiguities13; so many blanks to recognize and name, to fill and carry away.

The past, the culprit culprit14, is a constant companion here, too.  It hangs in the heat of the afternoon, or just after a rainstorm, hoping to be cultivated into an unpollution, a chance redemption.  Every seed in the yard has told on us in olden times15, and we are feeling the effects of their words ring true now, perhaps for the first time . . .

Sometimes it takes a parade to remind us16.

Enjoy the moments, friends, pass they will—be living, be alive, because these are them: the thes we can’t help anticipating! Take note of the patterns on walls that were always there17! Get higher in rarefied air18!  Listen without speaking to each little leaf as it falls19!

If all else fails, use the juggle coin to buy your way out20.


 Poems Quoted:

  1. Sacre vache!
  2. How to have a day · 1
  3. How to have a day · 3
  4. History
  5. Trying to be informative
  6. A bit swollen in the pretend-area
  7. How to have a day · 1
  8. Headmeat
  9. History
  10. Busted
  11. Actuality prayer
  12. Sacre vache!
  13. Trying to be informative
  14. How to have a day · 2
  15. Sacre vache!
  16. How to have a day · 2
  17. Patterns
  18. In rooms
  19. Progress
  20. Plumb function


CarlaJean Valluzzi


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