C.N.P Poetry 

  • Cathexis Northwest Press


By: Samantha Madway


Every arrival is an echo after the first.

Desperate to counter diminishing returns,

our investments expand. We pretend to speak

the language of weights and measures, capital and

kingpins. Insurance against chemical con-artists and

cannibalism. Heads displayed on the sharp end of a needle.

Best becomes better. Better gets worse. Dull edges. Steep drops.

Safety growing scarce. There’s so much succumbing going around.

Symptoms include gravity, graying, inescapable grief.

Submerged in something. Walks and talks

like love. Looks like chipping away or

acid rain. Narrowing muscles and

minds and marrow. Narrowing

into nothing, mistaken for

ghosts long before

we’re dead.


Overexposed, punishment self-imposed,

unknowns out of control.

Solo freak show,

pin through my thorax,

my voice incapable of carrying past the glass.

Audiences rapt, fascinated to watch me

weighed down.

A lone drone bee.

Or the last of my colony,

humping around in an ant farm ghost town,

back buckling, white knuckling beneath some

always-been-there, always-done-that burden.

Diagnosis expired, obscured by dust and

denial, the prognosis anomic and getting worse,

circling the drain, swimming

against the grain, half-Sisyphus, half-scoliosis.


Clickbait K-hole, everyone asking at funerals, well,

how did your day go? Making caskets out of plastic and putting

corpse flowers in the fireplace. Floor model mountain of gravestones.

Instead of a eulogy, invoke the mercy of montage:

take those months spent under the command of a madman—

the first bite, the fever, then the fear, frenzy, fighting, falling, fury—

and convert them into frames per second, watch the horror passing

faster than a few heartbeats, passing like a euphemism for why

we’re throwing dirt at the dead, like passing is a promise

the means have reached the end.

Samantha Madway is working on a collection of interlinked poems and flash fiction. She loves her dogs, Charlie, Parker, and Davey, more than anything else in the universe. Though technophobic, she attempts to be brave by having an Instagram @sometimesnight. If the profile were a plant, it would’ve died long ago. Her writing has appeared in Laurel Review, Wild Roof, Sunspot Lit, Linden Ave, High Shelf, Sky Island Journal, Aurora, mutiny!, Clementine Unbound, SLAB, and elsewhere.

Interview with the Poet:

Cathexis Northwest Press:

How long have you been writing poetry?

Samantha Madway:

Some of my earliest memories are centered around those half-lined, half-blank worksheets for writing and illustrating stories. In preschool, I used to do all of my work on Mondays so that I could spend the rest of the week making storybooks and kiddie poems. But my first attempt at writing POETRY-poetry was in fifth or sixth grade.


Can you remember the first poem you read that made you fall in love with poetry?


I’m sort of ashamed to admit it because I’m generally a compendium of origin stories, but I don’t know that any one poem is responsible for sparking my love of poetry. I have little vignetted memories of lines or pieces that grabbed me early on—“One Art” by Elizabeth Bishop, “Dream Song 1” by John Berryman, “Blackberrying” by Silvia Plath—but I actually think my love of music, my lifelong unwavering devotion to learning the lyrics of every song I like enough to listen to more than once, and my absolutely hopeless lack of musical skill are responsible for my cozying up to poetry.


Who are your favorite poets? Any specific poems?


I have a weird thing about citing favorite poets: I feel ill-prepared to pick a favorite without first having read the full oeuvres of many different poets. (And, yes, this absurd fixation on precision in low-stakes situations is one of the more banal examples of why I have a brain doctor.) Anywhoo, my favorite book of poems is Meadowlands by Louise Glück. I’ve read it at least twenty times. I even have a tattoo of a line from one of the poems in Meadowlands. A few favorite free-standing poems are “Dream Song 1” and “Dream Song 14” by John Berryman; “The House” by Warsan Shire; and “Star Turn” by Graham Foust.