Skipping Stones by Matthew McGuirk

Poetry, Punk Noir Magazine

It wasn’t quite like the ripples 

that surface on a glass pond 

as the rock skitters across, 

but it might have been

something like that. 

Paid leave were the words,

therapy was their direction,

words were the infraction,

 nothing more



but that’s not what they said!

It was obvious they saw the stone 

skipping across hard asphalt 

and chipping away

at a polished surface, 

something time worked at, 


Flecks hid under cars and 

slipped through sewer grates,



and maiming the stone. 

He was crossed legs

and paper and pencil on his lap.

His office was a leather couch

and a chair in the corner 

if you didn’t want to be cliché.

He wanted to know how I was, 

where I grew up 

and what my parents did.

He couldn’t hide wanting to know

how school was,

did I like my students

and the courses I taught?

It sat there just




ever exposed to 

the light of day,

waiting for people 

to stop and examine it

or pass it by

because it was of no need. 


 he wanted to know if I was happy.

I asked him if he knew why I was here,

maybe turning the table.

He nodded

and asked if I ever had feelings like that.

I just laughed

because it was a question

that anyone who knew me 

would scoff at

and it seemed right 

that I should too.

The jagged edges, 

the surface no longer smoothed by a river

or polished day after day, 

were exposed.

A hand might go to collect

them up and catch a sharpened point,

something they weren’t ready for,

something that wasn’t there last time. 

I left feeling nothing was resolved.

Did anything need to be fixed,


I marked the session off

knowing I just had to go

until I met the quota, 

the number that said

I’m OK.

Still, a part of me wants to know

what they saw, 

how a few words

spun their minds,

turning my smile


like they were just now

seeing me for who I was.

Matt McGuirk teaches and lives with his family in New Hampshire. BOTN 2021 nominee and regular contributor for Fevers of the Mind with words in 50+ lit mags, 100+ accepted pieces and a debut collection with Alien Buddha Press called Daydreams, Obsessions, Realities on Amazon. Twitter: @McguirkMatthew Instagram: @mcguirk_matthew.