M.J. Arcangelini

Shauna Dies Repeatedly

Walking on a hot day, stalking
shade from shadow to shadow,
I pass a lone man pacing
under the sparse branches
of a slender city tree
talking on his cell phone.

You know, to me
Shauna dies repeatedly
every day.

What he says next is lost as I keep walking
but now I’m wondering, who is Shauna?
Girlfriend? Wife? Daughter?
And how did she die?
If she is really dead, or
is she just dead to him or
does he just wish she were dead?
How does she die repeatedly
and why does this happen every day?
Was he responsible for her death?
Was he driving the car that crashed?
Did he provide the drugs she ODed on?
Did she commit suicide over his infidelity?
Or was the infidelity hers?


I try to remember his tone when he said it.
Was he sad? Angry? Hurt? Matter-of-fact?
It escapes me, it happened too fast.
I put spin after spin on it but nothing satisfies.
There is no resolution to the Shauna problem.
She haunts each step for the rest of my walk
as she keeps dying repeatedly the whole way.


M.J. Arcangelini was born 1952 in western Pennsylvania, grew up there & in Cleveland, Ohio. He’s resided in northern California since 1979. He began writing poetry at age 11. His work has been published now and then, here and there, including in The James White Review, Whisky Island, Taproot, ArtCrimes, Ev’ryman, Splitw*sky, White Crane Journal, Jonathan, lilliput, Rusty Truck, The Ekphrastic Review, The Gasconade Review, and a dozen anthologies. He is the author of four poetry collections, the full length “With Fingers at the Tips of My Words” 2002, from Beautiful Dreamer Press, the chapbooks “Room Enough” 2016, and “Waiting for the Wind to Rise” 2018, both from NightBallet Press, and the full length “What the Night Keeps” 2019, from Stubborn Mule Press. A chapbook, “Pawning My Sins” is forthcoming from NightBallet Press. He maintains an occasional blog of poetry and prose at https://joearky.wordpress.com/ He was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2018.