Quick Chat (Mackenzie Moore)

I want to talk to you about your grief

in terms that sound a little more familiar

than someone’s misinterpretation of a 5 step

process, because: that shit isn’t going to cut it

when it comes to plugging a gaping hole

that happens to run through your due north

Think about it like:

your car insurance bill 

the recycling that needs to go out

the pilot light gone dark, gassing up the kitchen

the living, howling need it is

You know what happens if you leave termites?

they pillage from the inside out


Don’t confuse it with a card in a shoebox,

photos taped into the safety of an album,

or a prayer card fraying in your wallet

Resist the urge to believe the epitome of someone—

a whole person— can be scheduled, compressed

and tucked away like piles of rank laundry

Grief now lives on and over you

scaffolding your motions like eczema; acne; arthritis

A chronic— and sporadic— and absolutely petulant

part of you that now requires Work

Hardly curable by Western medicine

nor does it give two shits about your PTO—

vacation responder some other emotion

that doesn’t traverse all timezones and zip codes

The root of grief is love

you don’t pass Go in trying to

kill it, or refusing it existed

and it’s not worth losing your 

Atlantic Avenue over denial

Grief, alas, is always a “yes, and”

going dormant only to flare and

find pathways back to your heart

that leave you exasperated and hopeless

It’s not okay, I know. I know

But for the sake of this exercise:

It is.

Grief is not retaliatory

fierce, of course, but rarely malicious

rarely trying to fractionate you any further

Rather than: inflammation asking to heal

So if you need to stop for a moment

if you need to honor your shadows—

get super fucking angry on a Tuesday 

because someone bought you Blue Gatorade

when you insisted on Lemon Lime 

Because all you feel with one simple error

is baseball fields and Third Eye Blind and 

the absolutely, unshakeable truth that you are

operating without someone once in your peripherals


It was real.

It still is, even if it’s not the same

Some semblance of time passing

will make the phantom limb less sore.


Mackenzie Moore is a writer and illustrator based in Los Angeles. Her work can be found on Spotify podcasts, and in  Hobart, X-RAY, and The Dallas Review. She’s an incoming residential writer for the 2023 Kenyon Review nonfiction workshop.


image: “Barbed Wire:” An AI image generated by text: Sean O’leary is a writer from Melbourne, Australia. he has published two literary short story collections, ‘My Town’ and ‘Walking’. His literary novella ‘Drifting’ was the winner of the ‘The Great Novella Search 2016’ and published in 2017. He self published ‘The Heat’ his crime novella set in Darwin and Bangkok in 2019. ‘Drifting’ and ‘The Heat’ will be re-published by Next Chapter in 2021/22. His second crime novella ‘Preston Noir’ was published in 2020 in ‘Crime Double Feature…Neo Noir’ from the indie press ‘Zombie Pirate Publishing’ His crime fiction collection ‘Wonderland‘ was recently published by the down and dirty folk at Close to the Bone Publishing in the United Kingdown. His new crime novel ‘Going All the Way’ and short story collection ‘Tokyo Jazz & Other Stories’ are both out now through Next Chapter Publishing. He is currently working on his new crime novel and ongoing short stories all the time.

He likes to walk all over the face of the earth,  take photos, travel as often as he can, supports Melbourne Football Club (a life sentence) enjoys art but knows nothing about it, is a film buff and writes like a demon.