Matt Daly



She Orchestrates Her Wake


For Brenda


Hold it on a Thursday when the truck

with my favorite tacos de barbacoa parks

in the Target parking lot down the street. 

Get plenty of tacos and be ready to run back

for more. You cannot prepare for the quantity

we need. The truck changes every Thursday

but the tacos are the same. Bring enough

containers for each of the salsas. Include

my special container for the hottest salsa.

It’s in the cupboard, mixed up with the others

but don’t worry, it stands out. Bring your own

plastic bags for carrying the tacos. Make sure

everyone tries at least one taco with one drop

of the hottest salsa. That will give us something

to laugh about later in the night. Make sangria

and plan to drink a lot. Pick whichever recipe

people like. Get supplies for several batches

of my margaritas. Follow my recipe to the letter.

Don’t rely on a paper copy of the recipe. Find

the one I laminated. It will help, after a few batches,

to have a copy that can get wet.  Invite everyone

I know. Make a list. Make sure everyone on the list

gets a chance to add to it. Yes, I know,

it will be a long list. Be sure to invite the old lady

next door, who sits on her stoop most afternoons,

watching the neighborhood boys. She will not attend. 

Instead, she will probably call the cops to complain

about the noise. Something else to laugh about

before sunrise. Don’t invite the boys. Don’t forget

to add me to the list. Receiving the invitation

in the mail will help me remember to show up. 

Make sure no one arrives before sundown. 

Sunsets remind me of the time that rattlesnake

bit my dog, remind me of this nest of snakes

untwining in me. I believe, if everyone gathers

in the twilight, all the snakes will coil up again

in a firm ball, replacing my breast. Help me

put on my green dress that hugged my hips,

that used to make the men at the taco truck

say, “Damn!” when they knew I could hear them. 

Make sure I have my silver hoop earrings.

Make sure my scalp shines. Let me wear

the oversized sunglasses I wore when they

were still in style, when I still thought looking

at the sunset could be beautiful so long

as I took precautions. Tell me, again and again,

I am beautiful long after dark.



photo by Barbara Michelman

Matt Daly’s poetry has been published various journals including The Cortland Review, Pilgrimage, Sixfold, Clerestory, and Split Rock Review. He was the recipient of the 2015 Neltje Blanchan Award for writing inspired by the natural world. In 2013, he received a creative writing fellowship in poetry from the Wyoming Arts Council. Matt is a resident faculty member at the 2016 Jackson Hole Writers Conference.