PoetryIssue 19 | December 2013

The New Place

by Sadie Ducet

I forgot to buy hand lotion
for the new place, and garbage bags,
so for now I stretch plastic
shopping bags across the bins.
No curtains on the windows yet,
broken blinds. Styrofoam, cardboard boxes,
packing detritus strewn. The place
is all potential, and view:

across the street, three churches,
only one turned into a museum.
In the other direction, a bar
whose name I can’t make out—
Mutts, I think—and smokers
ranged outside who watch, with me,
a ballet of traffic through the intersection.
Winter houses down the street
look like my childhood.
The trees are leafless and the sky is blue.
A belling of cranes wheels their blessing
then disappears. I’ll take it.

Thank God we got the unit
next to the piano room, so it’s our walls
forced to admit the untuned jangle
as our son plays,
as his sister begs him, Come explore—
The piano room, a casual library
filled with discarded mystery,
romance, old childcare manuals,
and a book from 1952
on the history of witchcraft by Pennethorne Hughes.

Pennethorne Hughes! Who could resist?
What else could the man have done
with such a name, but write of witches?
The biographical paragraph corrects me.
He also taught history, worked
for the BBC, and wrote more books:
on modern Europe, Egypt
in World War II, and—no surprise—
the book, How You Got Your Name.

Come explore. The elevator opens again.
Dear Pennethorne, before the furniture’s delivered,
we can’t help but see there are vague
stains on the carpet, and one window
won’t quite close. These things can be fixed
or covered over. I’m already thinking
what I can leave in the library, next time
I come. Downstairs,
the reassurance of brass
mailboxes in rows, across the hall
a swimming pool and three
vending machines, their steady hum.

About the author

Sadie Ducet appears here and there, in places like Midwestern Gothic and Off the Coast and that corner of your mirror. Her work is curated by Sarah Busse, one of Madison, Wisconsin’s Poets Laureate and co-editor of Verse Wisconsin.

Read our current issue:


Two poems by Anne Babson
Vignette, Townhouse, 9 a.m. by Troy Cunio
Night Becomes Day Over the West by Megan Foley
Yukon River Aurora by D. B. Goman
Two Poems by David Havird
Cretan Love Letter by Emily Linstrom
Holland by Rick Mullin
Fear in Kenya by Kristina Pfleegor
The Lounge Lizard by Ed Shacklee
Two Poems by Sarah J. Sloat
Night Flight by Vicki Stannard
Koinonia Farms by Alina Stefanescu
Thessaloniki, Four a.m. by Anastasia Vassos
Imaginary Oceans by Jason Warren
Two Poems by F. J. Williams

Postcard prose

It’s Salty by Kelly Hill

Travel notes

Anchorage in the Great Land by Karen Benning
The Value of Small Money by Megan Hallinan
Screensaver by Sandra Larson
Thirty Cents by Tommy McAree
Gokarna by Kate McCahill
Going Places by Rachel Miller-Howard
Susanville CA: Notes From The Road by Susan Volchok