Girl Water Pages Rodery

Flashback Friday featuring "Demolition" from issue 294.2

Gaye McKenney

Gaye McKenney's poem "Demolition" from the 2009 Spring issue of the North American Review received an Honorable Mention in the James Hearst Poetry Prize.

SuburbiaA note from the Author: The inspiration for the poem "Demolition" came from news reports of a fallen Marine, 2nd Lt. James Cathey,  who was killed in the Iraq War. His pregnant wife, Katherine, refused to leave his side—sleeping beside his casket guarded by fellow Marines.  It was (and still is) one of the most heart-wrenching images I've ever encountered. Here is an excerpt from the actual story:

The night before the burial of her husband's body, Katherine Cathey refused to leave the casket, asking to sleep next to his body for the last time.

The Marines made a bed for her, tucking in the sheets below the flag.
Before she fell asleep, she opened her laptop computer and played songs that reminded her of her husband "Cat," and one of the Marines asked if she wanted them to continue standing watch as she slept. "I think it would be kind of nice if you kept doing it," she said. "I think that's what he would have wanted."

Katherine Cathey was also pregnant when she laid beside her husband's casket.  We send our deepest sympathies and prayers to the family and friends of "Cat," her Marine.

Please remember those who gave it all and paid the ultimate sacrifice with their life.

Thank you to our Military Moms of Texas member for sharing this with us.

Here is the link for the whole story—



I want these walls to flinch,

the doorjambs splinter. I need

to hear mullions crack, windows shatter.

Let these rooms collapse;

allow me to crumple in the rubble


Set the kindness of casseroles

to congeal in the fridge—

the Bundt cakes, the beige profiles of pies.

Leave me alone. Have somber-faced friends

believe I'm as okay as I say I am.


I want to lie on our bed, curl into

yesterday, fill one last small space

with you, let your death crash

over me completely with its massive,

numbing weight.

Gaye McKenney

Gaye McKenney lives, works and writes in south-central Indiana.  Her first chapbook, The Bell Jar Glass was published by Finishing Line Press in 2013.  She received an Honorable Mention for her poem “Demolition” from the North American Review’s James Hearst Poetry Prize as well as an Honorable Mention for her poem “Twelve” from New Millennium Writings.

Illustrations by  Clay Rodery, an illustrator who lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. Clay’s illustrations have been featured in the North American Review issues 298.4, 299.1, 299.3 and most recently 299.4, Fall 2014.