Moira Magneson


Born and bred in northern California, Moira Magneson has worked as a truck driver, television writer, substitute teacher, artist’s model, and river guide. She now teaches English composition at Sacramento City College and lives in Placerville, where she is a member of Red Fox Underground, a Sierra foothills poetry collective. Her work has appeared in Margie, Verse Daily, Runes, Rattlesnake Review, Hanging Loose, and elsewhere. He Drank Because is her first published collection of poems.


Dedication for He Drank Because:

For Eric, who believes

and in gratitude to the Foxes


Poems by Moira Magneson

—Moira Magneson

I have slept under
overpasses, in graveyards,
on the drunken night bus
to Nepal. I have tricked
psychiatrists, abandoned
friends, even babies,
as easily as changing clothes.
I have hitchhiked
from Idaho to Stockton,
wearing nearly nothing at all.
I have leapt
into a rolling boxcar,
made a bed of pissy cardboard
& lain on it. I have spun
my Dodge Dart 360 degrees
in rush hour traffic
on the way
to my lover, a married man.
I have betrayed
more women than men
even though
more men than women
have betrayed me. I was
seam-ripped by a man
when I was four.
I’ve had a knife to my neck,
negotiated for my life
in the back seat of a big rig.
I have stayed awake three days straight jacked
on speed & seen my mind
wander the world without me.
I’m all that.

—Moira Magneson

And if I went
to your grave
in Freedom,
broke the earth
with a pickaxe,
then shoveled
dirt day and night—
for however long
it took
to get to the box,
and if I ripped
out the nails
with a hammer’s claw,
pried open
the rotting plywood
to see
beetles scatter
from the nightgowned bones,
and if I saw
the rings on your fingers,
one for the man
who made my mother,
the other
for the man who followed,
and if I pulled you up
by your shoulders,
so that your hollow
sockets faced mine,
and if I could peer
into the dark
mindshaft, see
the girl alone
in the house
for weeks,
who fends off your fists
and knives, who dreams
of leaping horses,
and if I might
call to her—
Olly Oxen Free,
if I could hear
her breathing,
and if I could turn
you upside down
and shake her out
of your absence,
so that she might fall
into my palm,
if I could gaze
into that bright gem
of emptiness—
Nancy Marie—eight years old—
as a woman might gaze
into her infant’s eyes,
what then?












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