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"Resting Heart Rate", "The Northeast Direct", "Walking Around" Beth Mulcahy

Resting Heart Rate

The hollow heart pumps peace rhythmically, contracting and dilating, pushing calm methodically against the flow of fight. Peace is the absence of disturbance but it is not passive. Being the heart that pumps peace against the current of rage is as difficult as trying to hold up the sky, to keep it from falling down around us. We are weakened by our fear that someday it will - the sky- fall down. It keeps trying. To crash down on us. We know it on days when it is thick with layers upon layers of deep dark clouds in 3D glory that erupt into 4D with rain and sleet and hail beating down on us. That is the hardest sky to hold off, our arms tired, and we are soaked through but still we hold it all at bay because though it will drench us to our core for a while until we think we can’t take anymore, it will stop eventually and the clouds will clear and there will be a sky that is easier to hold again. Easier to live under. There are days that the sky fools us into thinking that it doesn’t need to be held off at all, like it can just be. Like we can just be. Days when it is just a painting of a specific shade of blue an artist spent hours of trial and error to get just right and it has a sun in it - sometimes bare, radiant, exposed and sometimes hiding demure behind white wisps of brand new cotton balls. We let our arms down then, to relax at our sides those days but we keep our eyes on it always - the sky - to see what it will do next while our hearts keep pumping out peace, hoping that peace will echo off the heavens all over the earth.

The Northeast Direct

I board a train in Hartford

the Northeast Direct to Philly

find a boy playing banjo

serenading from the back row

long plaited hair, kind eyes, and a golden voice

I figure he’s there just for me

not having been on many trains

I can’t be sure but I don’t think

train car concerts

happen everyday

I don’t feel the train start

only know when it’s moving

I know this song

and I wonder if we’ve met

in the midwest yet

I want to talk but the song doesn’t stop

eyes that won’t leave mine alone

tell me words get in the way

and his smile says it all

before it ends, another song begins

I could stay all day on the Northeast Direct

And listen to where this goes

but I’m not that girl

who drops everything

to stay on a train

I wish I was carefree enough

but something waits for me

a plan with a job and a suit

this may be the right song

but it’s the wrong tune

I can’t follow him but he could follow me

he only keeps singing

I drift off at my stop looking back

as the Northeast Direct rolls on

so do I

Walking Around

walking around

in the night

in the cold

in the dark

walking around


not with me

this time

but not alone


i saw it


i knew

it was only

a matter

of time


i was replaced

what was


is hers

what i was

to you

she is

now and yes it hurts because you don’t really care anymore

go ahead and walk her around and drop her


it isn’t my heart anymore

It Could Be a Love Story

Once you’ve had the sort of passion that is alarming

it’s hard to get there again

and you find you spend

more energy trying to love

than actually


trying to imagine

what it could be

instead of seeing

what it is

If you put what you want the most

inside what you have

it could be a love story

When love is what you want

you can take

what you have

watch it endure

call it love

and live

in its illusion

Squint and spin it

watch what you want

and what you have

swirl and blur and blend

As minutes turn to hours

hours to days

days to weeks

weeks to years

year after year

you will be what they call happy

or you won’t know any better


Beth Mulcahy is a Pushcart Prize-nominated poet whose work has appeared in various journals. Her writing bridges gaps between generations and self, hurt and healing.Beth lives in Ohio with her husband and two children and works for a company that provides technology to people without natural speech. Her latest publications can be found here:


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