A three-time Pushcart nominee, Robert Aquinas McNally has published nine nonfiction books and three poetry
chapbooks, along with essays, features, and news stories in various magazines. His publication credits include Bateau, Blue Unicorn, Blueline, The Cape Rock, Carquinez Poetry Review, Ecotone: Reimagining Place, Fourteen Hills, Hawaii Pacific Review, The MacGuffin, Minnetonka Review, Quiddity, RiverSedge, Runes, Snowy Egret, and Soundings East, among others. A graduate of The Ohio State University and University of California at Berkeley,
he’s also studied extensively with the award-winning poet David St. John.
(Aplodinotus grunniens—plain, plump, pig-grunting fish)
Lake Erie shore, near Huron, Ohio
Just finding lucky stones took luck, that and
combing the sand early, when the windless
lake drew back its slick lips. The few stones hid
in layers of wave-beached gravel and glass:
pearl-white escutcheons furrowed with an L.
I hoarded my finds in a Bull Durham
bag, treasured them even more when someone
said they were earbones from sheepsheads, the way
these fish told up from down through their unlit
years of bottom dwelling. Unhinged by death,
the earbones followed the slow flow of storm
currents, rose toward light and washed ashore,
became shining talismans drawn from dark
decay to shape the fate of the living.