How to Peel a Red Pepper
by Mary MacGowan

We float over a storm
between Detroit and Newark.
Two girls up front, drunk
at 10 a.m.
The streaked-hair one says,
Don’t mistake our Fun
for our Professionality.
When the stewardess hushes them
the other one stage-whispers
I just want to get there
before I get in trouble.


We watched movies
on our broken television
with closed captioning
we couldn’t turn off, on.
Later, when it got fixed,
how I missed

sounds of birds flapping
             gurgling water
             she sighs
             heels clicking on a hard wood floor


Rub the red pepper with olive oil,
place it on a hot grill, let it blacken.
After it softens into itself,
peel off the skin  
stretched thin
like third day sunburn
on a young girl’s shoulder.


Mary MacGowan lives alone on a deserted frozen lake where
it snows every day all winter.  As she writes this, she is pleased
to see signs of spring, and of love.  She’s had poems published
in numerous journals including
The South Carolina Review,
The Literary Review, POEM, Poesia, The Acorn, Lullwater
, Cimarron Review, The Orange Willow Review,
Westview, Array Magazine, Fugue, Green Hill Literary
, Palo Alto Review, Blood Orange Review, Apple
Valley Review, Review Americana, and Manorborn.  
MacGowan can be found at

On “How to Peel a Red Pepper”:
I listen for an inner voice which whispers words to me.  
Sometimes I use those words in the order in which I hear
them, which was the case with “How to Peel a Red Pepper.”  
I feel that the inexplicable connection of images in this poem
brings the reader to a place that has no vocabulary—a quiet,
innocent place; the essence of poetry.

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Apple Valley Review:
A Journal of Contemporary

ISSN 1931-3888

Volume 4, Number 2
(Fall 2009)

Copyright © 2009
by Leah Browning, Editor.  

All future rights to material
published in the
Valley Review
are retained
by the individual authors
and artists.