Three poems by Madi Jay Hensley


“The Persistence of Memory” by Salvador Dalí

Time, cracked and broken in my mind. 
Leaving memories to feel like a burden. 

Traveling to a different time:
A moment, an image, a blur.

Good memories remembered as blends 
Of laughter and smiles. Love
And fun mixed together like a warm
Soup on a cold winter day.
Remembering better times 
That don’t seem to want to come back to me.

Bad memories that bring sharp pain
To my heart and to my mind, like a child 
Scraping their knee in the sharp gravel. 
A war is waged in my psyche as 
My body feels the same pins
And needles that accompany a long  
Drive to nowhere.

That is where it feels like I’m headed. 
Nowhere.
With nothing ahead of me, 
And only a trance of what was behind me.


You’ll Never Leave Here Alive

Being from Appalachia brings an odd morbidity. 
Morbid; obsessed with odd things, 
especially death and dying. 

Or perhaps it isn’t an obsession, but a way of life in the South.
Hard labor, long hours,  
Accidents are common; death even more so. 

Especially on the farm, death is an everyday occurrence. 
When breaking a horse could break a person’s spirit,
or perhaps their back if not careful.
Animals and livestock die, whether from disease, other animal attacks, 
the slaughterhouse, or a bullet between the eyes.  
When wringing the chicken’s neck, 
a funny memory my father shares with us at the dinner table.  

Superstitions just as common as Sunday dinner.
When hot ears means someone is talking ugly about you,
crossed utensils means you’ve got unwanted company coming,
and ghosts just a simple fact, a story around the dinner table as well.

The elders teaching the kids to hold their breathe 
when they pass a graveyard, and to cover the mirrors, stops the 
clocks, and open the windows after a death, so the soul doesn’t stay,
trapped in time. 

More memories of laughing in the funeral home’s coffee room 
than tears over a body in a box.  
Memories of kissing my great-grandmother goodbye and her parting words 
“This will probably be the last time you see me; I probably won’t make it to the next family
gathering” for years on end. 
So, when she died, it wasn’t a shock to us.  
The tears slower to come after years of warning.  

Perhaps our perspective is just cattywampus.  
After all, we are as happy as a dead pig in the sun.  
Our life lived for no one but ourselves. 
Our hills and hollers filled with more joy and love than any city home imaginable. 
And we might could change the way we are, but why would we?  


Tell Them of My Adventures

A rabbit hole is no different than 
looking down the barrel of a gun.

When it comes to an end, tell them I went to Wonderland.

Do not tell them of the poison 
cakes and rotten mushrooms.

The potions that make your fears come true.

Of how it is a world of chaos, killing, and revenge.

This is no land of wonder, 
This world is made of lies, sin, blood, and tears.

Tell them not of this life I lived.

Of parties, with friends offering the taste of a good time. 

Of friends, who don’t care to push you further. 

Of love, love that might not be returned. 

Tell them it was a place of magic.

Tell them I was a hero.

Tell them I fought the hardest monster,
The toughest battle. 

Tell them I was victorious.
Tell them I had to stay in Wonderland and keep being a hero. 

Because rabbit holes are one way.


Born and raised in Clay County, KY, Madi Jay grew up involved in many forms of art, including visual art, music, and theatre. Writing, although something that has always interested her, is something that she picked up later in life. While art is not what Madi Jay will be known for one day, it is a way to touch people across time and place, and perhaps leave a lasting impact on someone. Community and love are a deep need in today’s world, and Madi Jay sees art as an opportunity to do that.