Cheryl Maggi

Cheryl Maggi


Cheryl can be reached at

Follow her on Twitter @laidbackntx

Look for her on FaceBook as PoetCheryl

Her first poetry book, Wild Swings, is available on Amazon as an ebook.


December 17, 2017


by laidbackntx

This depression spreads more like a slough or a valley of barren dusty bowls of tinny wind chimes and

wind that whistles through a crevice or two in trusting minds that all will be fine if one just keeps on

through just one more day and one more night

Really? Another day of this muddy cloud? Another hour of active, yearning boredom for comfortable satisfaction?

The arid sunset promises another day of static from mortality

that whispers in that bare murmur of voices that grow louder

with every death of a past lover, a beloved relative

The tongue of grief is sharp, lashing out wildly while

soft righteous regret smells like burning natural gas from

an iron stove that used to bake biscuits and boil stock pots

of beans flavored with tasty bacon grease

Hang on just one more day, I say

slog through one more hour

chew just one more kernel of popcorn

that tastes of tears and stereotypes


December 10, 2017

Cheryl’s words continue to touch me deep in my soul … Quite Spaces in particular


by laidbackntx

In between here and there lies a place of quiet

a place of no longer yearning for others’ attention

or affection or respect

It’s a place fully alive to absolutely everything in the universe that exists

to know the mysterious workings of things

It does not love or hate or boast of arrogance

nor bow in humility

to be fully alive and quiet in the now

In the flow of a silent eternal rhythm

not watching

clocks or calendars or seasons changing

The essence of unbottling this quiet

belongs to nothing and everything

but exists on fairy wings, those mythical sprites

that flit in the gloaming of life that possesses

more yesterdays than tomorrows


December 3, 2017


Posted on May 13, 2017 by laidbackntx
The Columbus Chronicles, episode 4

We can still smoke in the bar

a relief for the reprobates

Pretty soon the pine smell is obliterated and a

blue haze floats just above our heads

We’ve become animated, my barfly friends and me

outside the sun creeps down the west side of the street

and brightens the inside just barely

we play liar’s poker, crack peanuts so stale

the shells are rubber pellets

popcorn is fresh, though

The woman with the Lucy eyelashes and smeared lipstick

laughs out loud with a bray that donkeys envy

I see black molars and bits of popcorn falling out of her mouth

A younger guy, maybe 25. slips off his stool and staggers to

the men’s room. We laugh and catcall at his stumbling

silently vow to make sure we don’t do the same thing

After all, it’s only 7 am and real people that do real jobs

are prancing down the sidewalk

and we aren’t there


November 26, 2017


by laidbackntx

Originally posted on June 22, 2017
The table shines

Sunlight slants across the window

Heat glimmers up from the sidewalk bright, so bright it hurts. She touches the table and grips the edges in a bid to hang on to the present even as the present fades to foggy remembered moving so deep and moving so strong

the past shines as bright with a knowing of the truth that her lover’s mouth, her cocoa mouth that gleamed as bright as the sunlight with dimples creasing her smile that tasted just like salt and smoky sweet a feast of earthy delight whipping the white sheets in a tangle of twirls and laughter and moans

That the husband never knows

And the church never knows

And nobody will ever know the tenuous grip it takes to hold the table and the real when the real is in a dream, a fevered dream


November 19, 2017

by laidbackntx

This, the sad smile of summer

She leaves with a kiss of sun and a shiver of cool

She swears she will return in a few days for a short visit before she leaves

for the south for seven months

Her snappy sister arrives in a huff, hair twirling in the bitter wind

she taunts me with her bright hard light and dashes my hopes for a detente’

Damn, she’s here for a while and she has very few qualms about summoning

her big wintery mama on occasion just to keep me honest, sniffling, and covering up

Copyright © 2017


November 12, 2017

by laidbackntx

He kept his eyes averted and fidgeted when he talked but something I said touched something in him because he came alive with words that tumbled out in a halting, insistent rush to tell me a story he had held on to like a talisman for more than thirty years.

“I used to be the head technician for when the cable company first got big in _____

and I, uh, made good money in those days”

Here he paused and looked away, his sad old eyes seeing far beyond our sight. I waited for him to get to whatever point he was trying to make and he apologized for not being able to talk so good, because of botched anesthesia, and another story he needed to tell after this one.

“So I was going home one morning and I was in the right turn lane and this cement truck, this truck turned left and he took the corner too fast and he turned over and all I saw was green, because that was the color of the truck, and he stopped about three feet from a gas pump and all the cement came out and it stopped about an inch in front of my truck, and all I saw was green.”

He stopped and looked away from his feet directly into my eyes. His voice shifted in tone, gained strength.

“So I jumped out and ran around the cement truck and the driver climbed out and stood on top of his truck yelling and beating his chest, ‘Yeah! That was awesome’”

“There was a grandmother, a baby, and uh, the mother underneath that cement truck and you couldn’t even see the car.”

He never looked away from me and I felt the hurt and the guilt hitting me in waves. He had to tell this story, job be damned, stuttering be damned.

He climbed under the truck and a cop pulled him out as he tried to get to the people underneath.

“The cop, he yelled at me and said nobody was underneath that truck but I pointed to the headlight that popped out on the ground and the taillight that was laying there. And the cop said it was done and over with, and they put a big tarp over that cement truck all day.”

“That boy, that 19 year old boy, got eleven years in prison for uh, manslaughter, and I testified and everything.”

His sad old face looked broken, fault lines of grief opening up from hairline to jaw. I said nothing at all, just stayed with him in that place. He refocused on me and touched me on my shoulder. I suppose he was making sure I was real and wouldn’t disappear after the telling.

“I used to skydive, scuba dive, you know, uh, climbed Yellowstone eleven times, and, uh, . . .” He looked outside and squinted, relocating himself again. I felt his confusion. I felt his despair at no longer being the vibrant young man he remembered. And I didn’t move. Not a muscle.


November 6, 2017

Cheryl is not only an amazing writer and poet but a damned good photographer and artist … enjoy this other side of Cheryl!

Cheryl BW 1

Cheryl BW 2

Cheryl BW 3


Cheryl Art - 2


October 29, 2017 – as timely now as when it was originally written … thanks Cheryl


Is the inevitable question when we leave a store larger than a 7-11. It’s not dementia, it’s traumatic brain injury. This isn’t dementia talking, this is traumatic brain injury. It could be the result of stroke, motorcycle wreck, or an IED blowing apart a Humvee in Afghanistan. It’s misunderstood, taken too lightly, and exacts a toll on survivor and caregiver alike.

TBI survivors can be perceived as bitter, angry, stubborn, moody sons-of-bitches that just want to make everyone around them miserable. To this day, my sister cannot be in the same room as Mother, a stroke survivor, so she does the next best thing and pays Mom’s cable bill. Guilt alleviation by cash register. It’s often easier to write off the emotional storms as mere personality traits than it is to dig for the underlying causes. Sometimes, it’s not just pure meanness that TBI survivors exhibit: The vast dark spaces in their brains where old memories flit by and new ones refuse to form are enough to drive anyone batshit crazy.

Picture it. One day, you wake up and you intend to drive to work, but when you get in the car, you don’t know where to put the key, and in fact, you don’t know where you are going until you find your list with directions on how to get to work. Or you look in the refrigerator and don’t recognize any of the bottles, cans or food containers. Sure, you know what work is, and you know food is stored in the big cold box, but you can’t draw out what to do with any of it. Hundreds of everyday mundane actions can spell panic to a TBI survivor.

I am learning how to ask questions appropriately, how to approach situations delicately, and how to step in the do the necessary things without infringing on the survivors’ clinging to a sense of self when all is the unknown, even in their brains.

Originally posted July 8, 2011 by laidbackntx


October 22, 2017

Another of Cheryl’s best! Be sure to scroll to the end of her section here to leave comments.


August 15, 2017 by laidbackntx

 I saw this sign for a subway line in Manhattan

And I remembered a time in life when I was certain that New York was a magical place, full of beautiful people, glamorous restaurants, excitement around the clock

And in my small town southern mind, I was

sure this Oz was the pinnacle of achievement but I grew up and got jaded in the ways of big cities and the myths of their magic

That subway sign reminded me of the smells of vomit and piss, the sight of a junkie drooling, his pants unzipped obscenely in a sad, not sexy way

I didn’t KNOW these things, mind you

It was another myth with just a grain of truth because the magic is still there with the reality and the woman going home after her day job is just as real with her sore legs and her choice of joints to have a cocktail and a burger that those of us in the rest of the country won’t know because we don’t have the mythology of New York in our cities, which makes us just a little jealous

Copyright © 2017


October 15, 2017



By Cheryl Maggi

BOOM, BOOM, BOOM, the house vibrated with each beat.

Jane cocked her head, startled.

“What’s that noise?”

I told her it was a car speaker booming somewhere close.


I walked out on to the porch and the next-door workers were blasting from a truck as they threw trash into the bed. My triangle neighbors across the street came out, too. Left angle neighbor said that her twin toddlers woke up from their naps. Right angle neighbor came out barefooted, hair all askew, throwing up her hands.

“What the fuck??”

I jerked my thumb over to the offending house. Dude, they shaking the house. She said her windows were rattling. She shouted over in Spanish to cut the music down and they ignored her. We talked for a few minutes and went back in. I texted the PD and said the neighbors were raising the dead over here. I came back outside and the music was turned down enough that all you could hear was quiet little booms, like a cockatoo that’s been told to shut the fuck up but he mumbles just enough to let you know you are not his mother and he doesn’t have to listen to you.

Right angle neighbor came back over and we smoked and talked about her casino trip the night before. She said her old man was gonna shit when he pulled up and heard what had happened. Not that he’s a crazy guy or anything, but he is the opposite of little man syndrome. And he’s a short guy. I know good and well he won’t start anything but he will sure finish it. Couple of weeks ago, he was outside raking leaves when he heard another neighbor, elderly, yelling at some dogs that were chasing her out of her backyard. He ran over with his rake and they turned on him. He made them turn around and hop over the back fence to the crackheads’ yard, which is probably where they came from in the first place. He told me to keep an eye out for the dogs when I came outside, and sure enough, as soon as I got back in the house, they came running into my yard and charged at the storm door where the cats were looking out. I yelled so loud that they stopped and ran off. The cops called me that day when they finally had the dogs cornered and I could hear them barking like crazy as the cop told me he thought he had found the right ones.

My neighbor told me she had called the cops earlier, so we watched for them, and sure enough, they came rolling by right after boomer left. They chatted with us for a few minutes and were the epitome of polite and even tweaked me a little on my ball cap.

This neighborhood is small, one way in, one way out. It’s a mixed, diverse neighborhood, with a trump supporter at one end, Hispanics at the other end, and every color of the rainbow in the middle. The town itself is small, just a dot on the highway, but less than ten miles from a good sized urban area. Hundreds of brand new neighborhoods are getting thrown together by a builder of dubious reputation, but people don’t care. They are desperate for affordable housing and this is where they will find it. The older neighborhoods here are getting top dollar for shitholes, even though there are no bad neighborhoods to speak of, but Texas is cursed with soil that moves. Foundations crack. They can get so bad that a house can look like it’s broken in half on the inside and still command a premium price because of the location. So, this settled little subdivision is mature, quiet, where little kids ride their scooters and big wheels up and down the street under shade trees big enough to cool the yard but no so big they will send limbs into the neighbor’s roof the next little tornado that skips through.

The cops ride through and don’t mess with anybody. They didn’t say anything when we, four middle-aged adults, sat at the edge of the driveway to watch the fireworks down at the park and smoked a blunt and drank beer. They just waved at us. You know what happens when the Policia roll up on people reliving their bad old days:

“Shhh! Shhh! Be cool! Shnork!”

Copyright © 2017

Read more of Cheryl’s work on her site …


October 8, 2017

A nice selection of poetry from Chery Maggi … Enjoy !

Poetry by Cheryl Maggi

  1. Saturday in the Dark

The slushy mud of poverty

oozes into every crevice

sometimes slowly, like years of beach sand that
will fill a motel carpet until no amount of vacuuming
will ever get it out there will always be grit, invisible
but felt, even so

Sometimes it comes in a landslide and

the house is gone, the cars are gone, the gew gaws

are gone

That sudden shock hurts worse initially but the hope of rebuilding hangs out there for a while

Until you realize there’s no more job

no more money no way to go back

And a new reality sets in

And we say, welcome to our world of

slow, grinding poverty, you’re going to be here

for a while

  1. Just listen to the frogs

they sing, like they’ve done for thousands

of years
the same song
Their song speaks to my cells, to my 
ancient memories
That feeling is like a home I know in my bones
A place I live in my ancient past
Dark stone places made of runes and made of totems
I feel the deep humming of eternal movement, of eternal speech
just under the surface


  1. In the drowsy afternoon shadows

I stroke your face with the tip of one lazy finger

You smile with your eyes closed and snuggle closer

to my body with a soft groan of contentment

We lie together in a sublime place of trust absolutely

and divinely ordained

I have dreamed of this for ten thousand nights

and days

prostrated myself in helpless supplication to

your gentle attention

for your intimate touch

for your inspiration

so that I can come home as I am destined to


  1. What is remembered in

the whiff of a childhhod smell

scrap of song

the peculiar angle of the sun

that looks just like it did

thirty years ago


What is remembered is

a fragment of sadness a scrap

of nameless longing

a knuckle-to-the-mouth gasp

of grief


What is remembered

bears witness to the cry

“I am still alive”

and paves the way for


what will be remembered.


  1. The taste of vicious grief lies

musky and sharp on my tongue

like skunk remains baking

on the side of an East Texas farm road


Your memory skitters

across my mind, a

wild and dark thing  that induces

terror and longing

far beyond what is expected


Let us bow our heads and contemplate

the hysterical silent laughter of

the carrion birds

perched on the headstone of

our relationship


And you, curiously uninvolved

a professional mourner

paying cheap tribute

I am a southern girl, born and reared in Charleston, SC, where the sweet azaleas and pungent pluff mud mingle to produce a sensual history of blood and madness

The following poems are from Wild Swings


  1. Damn it the yearning

Damn it the thirst for a taste

Of the whiskey, the whiskey that mellows

In a cask of friendship

Ever more tasty and strong


It sits in clad barrels

Silent, waiting for the tap

And that wondrous first sip


That first sip

That sweet woody pungent aroma

That smells of




Of cotton sheets

On which that furious kindling of fire

That restless longing quenches

The search for redemption


  1. One day, I left myself and didn’t come back for

A decade

I was an embryo floating in the safety of madness


Untouched by the outside

Unaware of time passing

Unaffected by lovers coming and going

I remember the darkness but not the presidents

It was a hazy gauze that filtered out all but the

Most egregious


And one day, I came back

I felt myself in my skin

My hearing picked up my own voice

My eyes saw me in the mirror

But nobody knew

I was gone

Is this the end of it or is it the eye of the storm?


  1. I’d like to take a pair of scissors to my memory

And snip out the tear stains, the dark moldy pieces


Sweep them into the trash like so many scraps

Of construction paper left from a child’s project


I would past squares of bright blue and yellow

Purple circles and streaks of orange

Paste them over the empty holes


I’d make new memories of watching fireflies, of

Walking by the marsh

With a muddy dog and a muddy bag

Full of muddy treasures


I’d make a collage out of campsites and spruce forests

Of fires and stick biscuits

Of hiking at twilight

Of fishing in the dark under a canopy of stars


How full my life would be with a pair of scissors

And pieces of colored paper



October 1, 2017


There’s a lady in my neighborhood that walks around the block and waves when she sees me

I like her in a neighbor way

One night, she knocked on the door and I saw her scalp glistening under the porch light and the sweat making little streams down her face and she was carrying several sweating bags

She said in her quavery voice that her husband is a deacon at the church and they got produce and would I like a bag of carrots? I said yes, thank you and as she handed me a bag of cold carrots, she asked hopefully if I wanted anymore because she had plenty of them

I said no thank you. My mama taught me to never take more than I need, but she offered again, and again, I said, no, thank you. She walked away in the darkness and I was stricken with guilt

A terrible, middle of the night guilt that wakes me up in a cold sweat

I should have taken all her bags of carrots and not allowed her cancer-stricken, frail kindness to walk all the way around the block in the dark with the sweat running down her face

Copyright © 2017

Read more of Cheryl’s work on her site …


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