James Mulhern – To Be

James Mulhern’s writing has appeared in literary journals over one hundred and thirty times. In 2015, Mr. Mulhern was awarded a writing fellowship to Oxford University. That same year, a story was longlisted for the Fish Short Story Prize. In 2017, he was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. His recent novel, Give Them Unquiet Dreams, is a Kirkus Reviews Best Book of 2019. He was shortlisted for the Aesthetica Creative Writing Award 2021 for his poetry.

To Be

I’d like to be

the Wife of Bath’s scarlet stockings
Poor Yorick’s skull
Dickinson’s sherry in the glass
Gatsby’s dock
Hulga’s wooden leg

a flattened sneaker on a road
a crushed beer can in a dumpster
a lost sock under a couch
a rip in a screen
a penny on a walk

a snail’s shell beneath a bush
a crow’s feather on a deck
a broken twig on a lawn
a puddle by a drain
or that dried leaf you crumble in your hand.



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