Truth and lies—in this poem by Linda Buckmaster the emotions fly so quickly (snarl red / shadow red / shame red) it’s hard to tell where truth resides. Or maybe truth is all in the movement, not in the settling down. In human relationships it’s so slippery: “bold-faced lie red, and even worse—the truth red.” In this fast-moving ekphrastic poem, we can see how visceral feelings are and how it takes the full range of them to come to terms with the complex and contradictory nature of experience.

Linda Buckmaster is based in Belfast. Her poetry, essays, and fiction have appeared in many journals. She has held residencies at Vermont Studio Center, Atlantic Center for the Arts, and Obras Foundation among others. Her hybrid memoir, Space Heart: A Memoir in Stages, was published by Burrow Press in 2018. Her latest hybrid, Elemental: A Miscellany of Salt Cod and Islands (Huntress Press, 2022), is the first installment in a series of creative and eclectic responses to the beauties and realities of islands across the North Atlantic Rim.

—Betsy Sholl, Maine Arts Journal Poetry Editor


Red Apologia

First, the mouth—


Stretch red

wild red

both guns blazing red

upper lip, lower lip

snarl red

shadow  red

shame red

mouth first red.

Some talk

some voice

some speech

some big mouth

twisted lip red

belch red

fart red

caught in the back seat red

stain on the couch red

bold-faced lie red

and even worse–the truth red.

Shout red

bitch red

face red

foot in the mouth red

mouth mouth mouth and

so bad I don’t give a goddamn red

I’m sorry

CROWE MARYJEAN FOR BUCKMASTER POEM you see through me image red lips copy

MaryJean Crowe, You See Through Me,
mixed media on paper, 12 x 3 in., circa 2017.

Apologia implies not admission of guilt or regret but a desire to make clear the grounds for some course, belief, or position.












Image at top: MaryJean Crowe, Imagine Being a Beautiful Princess, assembled laser printed images with bees wax, 8 x 8 in., circa 2000.