Literary Arts | READ LOCAL First

READ LOCAL First: Markay Brown

MarKay Brown

READ LOCAL First is your glimpse into the working minds and hearts of Utah’s literary writers. Each month, 15 Bytes offers works-in-progress and / or recently published work by some of the state’s most celebrated and promising writers of fiction, poetry, literary non-fiction and memoir.

Today, 15 Bytes features St. George-based poet Markay Brown. Here she provides four poems, part of her work titled Eve’s Child which won 1st place in the 2014 Utah Original Writing Competition in the category of poetry collection judged by Richard Howard who referred to the winning entry as “a great work, a new poet’s triumph. But there is a tonality other than triumph.” Along with others who placed in the competition founded in 1958, she was presented with a cash award by Utah’s Poet Laureate Lance Larsen in November.

Sunday Blog Read continues to accrue a distinguished group of established and emerging Utah writers for your review and enjoyment.

So curl up with your favorite cup of joe and enjoy the work of Markay!



from an oil painting by Jay Taylor


Triptych daughter in a gray-striped dress,

taffy yellow hair damp from play,

three poses on a stone bench:


1. Forward—wide violet eyes,

hands crossed in your lap,

bare feet crossed at ankles.


2. Sideward–chin up,

eyes heaven-bent,

arms lifted, fingers splayed.


3. Motion—whirl of gray, white,

your arms reaching

down to a rough rock floor


toward a transparent apple,

a crumpled, clear and empty

paper bag.


I want to climb inside the canvas window,

hold your face in my hands:

Don’t touch that apple!


But it’s fruitless.

Like me,

you are Eve’s child.





Original Sins


Where I’m from

folks followed the plow,

in the old days with matched horses—

I remember Prince paired with Pat.

Now they partner with Deere,


and Kansas kin inhabit their fields

with oil derricks hunting

and pecking the ground

like iron ducks and chicks.


I’m from cracked china,

dust in the sugar bowl,

café cooks and story tellers,

country fiddlers on the roof

who really came from Russia,

from German-speaking lovers of Old Glory

who sat in war-time jails.


I’m from Prohibition whiskey-drinking drunks

who gave their last dimes to a toothless old lady

or a boy needing bail

for kiting a check to buy bread.


I’m from mortar boards, books,

new religion, Beethoven,

grand pianos, grand notions,

summer houses, beach vacations.


But I walk with my toes pointed out

like I’m pushing that old wooden plow.

I tell myself: Steady now, keep

on the course plotted

by those

before you.




Dancing to Ray Charles, 1960


Seattle night, sultry

unknown part of town.


My comrades, strangers

outside our shared summer jobs.


An extra ticket peeled me

from my cocoon onto a darkened bus


toward an uncertain rendezvous.

The crowd jangled through the doors,

excitement sparkling off their dresses,

shaming my plain-clothed sensibility.


Bleacher seats lined the room,

a dance floor centered, ready.


On stage, a single ebony grand.

Led to the piano at the hour,


a pleasant-faced, dark-glassed man

took the microphone and crowed,


Hello, Seattle! to wild applause.

Smiling broadly, Ray leaned back his head,


fingered an intro, sang:

Georgia, Georgia, no peace I find. . .


In Sweet Potato Pie heaven with Ray,

I danced with a boy who didn’t mind


my awkward prance, jived for both of us.

In Selma or Savannah we couldn’t


use the same drinking fountain

or sit together on a bus. In Seattle


that night we were boy and girl

wrapped together in Ray’s song.


Even now

I wish I knew those moves.




Ephemeral Wings

from a James Christensen painting


She chases a white butterfly,

sleeve wings billowing

focused on fair flight

while we’re warm

in her small sun.

Bright vision,

she puffs hundreds

of wings skyward, twirls,

captures white dandelion chaff.


We reach unconsciously

to brace her, embrace

the instant

while light burns.

While we’re warm

in her small sun,

she vanishes into

the apple orchard

following petals

freed by the breeze.

We lament

the eye’s anatomy,

our need to blink,

our eyes heavy as





am_ops_comp_owc_winners_nov14_4Markay Brown began writing poetry in 2002. Her work has been published in Southern Quill, Segullah, Encore, Panorama, Provo Orem Word, Utah Sings, among others. Markay serves as president of Redrock Writers, a St. George chapter of the Utah State Poetry Society. She won first place in the 2014 Utah Original Writing Competition for Eve’s Child, her collection of fifty poems. The judge was Richard Howard, Pulitzer Prize winning poet and teacher at Columbia University. Brown is an intermittent blogger at


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