Margaret Corum

Three Poems

20th Anniversary Reflections

Margaret Corum co-edited Beltway Poetry Quarterly from 2017 until her move to Richmond, Virginia in 2019. She is currently an Associate Editor of the journal. While co-editor, she worked on the Sterling A. Brown Tribute Issue (Fall 2017, Volume 18:4, in which she also provided all the photographs); the Spring 2018 Portfolio Issue (Volume 19:2); and the First Books Issue of Summer 2018 (Volume 19:3). In addition, Corum helped develop social media updates, and worked on the migration of the monthly calendar from the website to Facebook. Notable for her enthusiasm, Corum is quick to recommend poets to read, loves to analyze how a poem is written, and passionate about learning more about her craft.

Corum writes, “During my time as co-editor of Beltway Poetry Quarterly I learned how frustrating WordPress can be, how difficult it is to format poetry on a webpage, and how an entire community can be built around a shared obsession with a wild, worthless craft.”


Three Poems


By the planet’s jagged
desertscape, slab-like rocks, 

she bubbles
like sea foam, makes frothy copper dirt. 

I mistook the volcanoes for dunes. Like fever,
like the peak of infection, the domes glow. 

Sweat prickles my upper lip. I envy her:
trap of toned legs crossed  

under gauzy fabric,
bloom of bottom lip, tilted 

myrtle crown, green,
white poof of stamen. 

She is backlit
by galaxies’ rainbow haze, 

dappling of stars, me:
elliptical, irregular, spiral 

bulge of gas and dust.


Understand This Loneliness

It is time
to settle into orbit.

Sweep away the interstellar dust
of a nebula and here

is sacked nulliverse.
Bound void,
eternity for your pocket.

Take axe to roots until you hit
the clang of truth, of telos.

Drain the lake.
Rake the ocean.

As if lamplight can save
a disintegrating house of leaves.

As if you remember being dead.



for my Momma

You stepped in dog shit
and washed your foot off
in the sea. 

I wish the sun
set in the east. 

I wish it here to stain
the ocean’s pale grey lid.  

I am angry with each wave, each crest,
each ripple, like a brush against the poison
ivy growing up through the wood of the deck.

Like the red smear of your cough
into mucus-damp tissues, 

like the way you part your hair.

Here is darkness, but not dark:
whitewashed horizon. Obliterating
fog. Abyss is too bright.  

The sky purples, swishes quickly
to cerulean, black. 

The moon is a sick
yellow glare among all that deep blue. 

I want to be as tough as a dune

or dune vegetation: thick, clotted vines.
Each barb and spur. To seem painful.
To give off a stink of spikes: a hurt
to throw back. 

I want to be as slight and thin
as the line that pins ocean to sky, 

not even your gasp in between.


“Venus” reprinted from Stoked Words, Capturing Fire Press, 2018, with permission of the author.


Margaret Corum lives and writes in Richmond, Virginia. She is a copywriter at Virginia Commonwealth University. Her work has appeared in the anthology Stoked Words (Capturing Fire Press, 2018) and Beltway Poetry Quarterly.