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Emma McCoy’s writing is a walk with the immortal spirit of woman.

Emma McCoy (B.A. Literature) reads for Whale Road Review and Minison Project, and is a former EIC of Driftwood. She’s the author of “In Case I Live Forever” (Alien Buddha Press 2022), and her poem “An American Ode to Macy’s” (Museum of Americana) has been nominated for the Best of the Net 2024. She has work published in places and loves to make banana bread. Catch her on Twitter: @poetrybyemma Instagram: @emmawritesnreads


The connections between and among women are the 

most feared, the most problematic, and the most potentially 

transforming force on the planet.

-Adrienne Rich

Clearly older women and especially older women who have 

led an active life or elder women who successfully maneuver 

through their own family life have so much to teach us about 

sharing, patience, and wisdom.

-Alice Walker

To read the poems in Emma McCoy’s collection, In Case I Live Forever, is to become lost in time over and over again–is to become lost in living and dying, over and over again. To be honest, it was a bitter-sweet feeling. I could never tell you I knew what life and death tasted like, or how maternal love maybe.. maybe tastes and feels like rattlesnake venom sucked out from the ankle of a small girl near dying. None of those connective thoughts had ever crossed my mind. And to be honest, the experience troubled me a little bit. Just a little… but what does not trouble me is having read this collection. It follows the narrative of a woman both cursed and blessed with life. It follows her having loved deeply once, someone like me, and then losing that irreplaceable love seemingly forever. Is this the tale of “Women” throughout time? Some women? A woman? It is most important to hear and learn from life’s narrative from those between the margins. 

As a poet of forms, McCoy's use of time, place, and person being told are each signature pieces in her choosing of a poetic format. I did not notice it at first, but as time and character develop throughout the course of the collection, so does the form. Her weaves are seamless, and you may not notice the first time you read through because in the beginning, like Ashmarru, you are lost in the storytelling. And like Ashmarru, you will feel like Undying, like The One Who Lives Forever, like the Daughter of Time. I encourage you to take note of Each “section’s” epigram of place and time:


Ancient legend tells of a woman walking the world…

It’s interesting reading this opening poem again, after finishing the legend the speaker is speaking of. In this opening line, and poem, McCoy begins painting the canvas of this time-traveling woman protagonist. The tone is oral history and origin. The tone is before place, time, or identity of character. She builds the textual landscape with life, death, words, and walking…

I’ll still call her ancient because it is the best word I have. And I’ll write of a woman that walks the world.


(Mesopotamia, 5000 BC)

My hands are wet in clay slap slap slap Mother doesn’t want me  so close to the river but I like how cold it is

In Origin, the opening images are clay, mother, and a young girl reflecting on the god of water and creation–Enki.

She Who Saw The Deep

(Sumeria,         2300 BC)

They dragged the lioness’ head behind them, dried blood caking on the palace steps. “The King will see you soon.”

Here, in The Deep, is where the tale begins. As I am writing this, I am simultaneously having to re-educate myself in ancient mythology. Here, Ashmarru and her lover, Shumi, have conquered Lamatsu. They are dragging her head to the king to be celebrated, to be worshiped and revered. Here, our speaker is spoken of. Whereafter, through the rest of the book, McCoy has Ashmarru herself narrating on her experiences, thoughts, and judgements on man as she travels time and the world. But something harrowing awaits her and her lover here. They feel a pull to a place and an experience deep, dark, and unknown to even them.

but here in the mountain was something else, something cracked, winding, at the rock bottom, a pool bluer than the end of the world. “Why here?” Ashmarru Breathed, “What is this place?” No one knew yet.

There are long pages to read here, twelve as a matter of fact, and a multitude of feelings to be felt. In these pages, McCoy’s well-crafted form is used firmly, fitting well balanced short lines to keep the pace and pages flowing down river.

The Code of Asharru

(Babylon          1769 BC)

3. If a widow’s father is dead and she has no house, she may take up the sword as a man does.

Most warrior tribes, no matter how big or small, have a code that fits their purpose–their drive. Codes were created in times of great need and great pressure to ensure success and survival. Often when great success is achieved, and survival of the tribe seems eternal, the code becomes a shadow…for a time. A time, long or short, when the warriors must be reminded that their power, their survival, their community is not eternal.  This poem emerges before Ashmarru’s Reflections, in the aftermath of She Who Saw The Deep. McCoy blends long form, epic form, short form in a dance weaving, lore, and language.

Reflections, Air, Night, & Change

(China              1048 BC)

The water flows downstream. It cools my hands but not my grief. My hair grows. Strands fall like water.

Ashmarru speaks in mourning. Here in Reflections, water reaches back to the opening poem Origin…splash splash splash. The McCoy and the Ashmarru are stretching back to the past in the narrative.. The god/warrior returning to the water repeats imagistically throughout the poem.

In Air, her mourning continues in a natural element quieter than water–wind.

The earth whispers. I want it to tell me If you still linger. The wind pushes.

In Night, perhaps enough time has passed to stir some restoration of Ashmarru’s heart…

The moon traces deep patterns tonight My mind wakes, laces. Heart-pieces together.

However, she is still cursed with life continuing, and in Ashmarru there is Change.

I have run so far to escape your grave. The New Year scars. The peach tree blooms.

And she continues traveling, experiencing, and reflecting as she, Ashmarru, continues to pass through the pages of time.

Whether you are an artist, adventurer, them all. The long and epic veins of composition are fewer and fewer in these modern times of flash writing. If you have a heart and mind for the old blood of legends and heroes of light and dark of light of life and death–pull into the deep of Emma McCoy. If you are listening for the words of time and place to speak and move you through spirit and myth– In Case I Live Forever will pull you into the deep.

In Case I Live Forever can be purchased here:


Cid Galicia is a Mexican American poet who has been teaching in New Orleans for over the past decade. He graduated with his MFA summer 2023 through The University of Nebraska Omaha. He is a poetry editor for The Good Life Review, reader for The Kitchen Table Quarterly, and this year's FIRECRACKER Poetry Manuscript Awards. His work has appeared in The Indianapolis Review, The Watershed Review, The Elevation Review, Trestle Ties, South Broadway Press, Roi Faineant Press, The Letter Review, The Peauxdunque Review, and other journals. He was excited to attend the 2023 Summer Writing Residencies of Sundress Publications & The Kenyon Review Summer Writing Workshop.


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