Definition: Woman – by Maggie Mackay


1. Amazon

Zoe/Helena/Atalanta is a member of a forceful race of warriors. She wears a tattooed skin of painted whirls and lines. She’s quite a sight. Inside her heart, a trumpet blast of generations gone before her. Independently minded, like a goshawk as it hovers on the thermals over summer fields. Kill. Wing it back to the eyrie. Tear the flesh, spit the bones.

2 . Jezebel

Scarlett/Tallulah/Zelda flouts where the average woman conforms. Once a pure being, gossip has it that she is a fallen woman, swears, takes the walk of shame at dawn, broken heels wobble in the gutter, cleavage exposed.
A poor version of Holly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, she inhabits a street of loneliness. window browsing. Litter drifts by.

3 . Lass

Bess/Tess/Peggy is a farmer’s daughter. Married young to a neighbour’s son she met at a Saturday dance. Her skin glows rose-blush through every season, even after giving birth six times. She rises with the sun, bakes scones without burning them. No one expects her to change. Her soul harbours thunder.

4 . Cougar

Eve/Nicole/Goldie is a forty-year-old city wildcat. Sharp talons worked on stone. She hunts toy boys without mercy. Writes the rules. Three essential attributes – to be active, fit, ambitious. One Achilles heel, neediness. It trips her up a month and a day into a relationship. The man runs.

5. Diva

Shirley/Mariah/Barbra bursts into a power ballad, avoids eye contact, demands, demands more. Her pet pug, Basil, goes where she goes and in a willow basket lined with faux fur. She is never on time for other people but expects to start on time. The divine right belongs to her. Every diva is world class in her field.

6 . Hen

Isa/Netta/Betty is a west coast of Scotland bird. She is loved in Springburn/Govan/Bellshill and by every bus driver when she pays her fare.
Messages bought, she’s heading home at winter teatime or off to work on a predawn morning. He cheers her with a casual smile, hen or Glasgow banter. The change tinkles as her heels clip down the aisle.





Maggie Mackay, a Scot and recent Manchester Metropolitan University MA Poetry graduate, has work in a range of print and online publications such as Ink, Sweat & Tears, Prole ,Three Drops Press and Atrium. The editor of Amaryllis nominated her poem ‘How to Distil a Guid Scotch Malt’ for The Forward Prize, Best Single Poem, 2017.


Rite of Passage – by Maggie Mackay


Girlie-girls, city-bred on the scheme, turn out,
suitcases past sell-by date, strapped with belts.
Kohl lines frame Cleopatra eyes,
allium spikes of spray-stiff hair quiver
slick with mousse, and then there’s the damson perm.
A wail of guttural nae way fills the bus.

Bedtime unravels. A cluster of smiles
shows off a photograph of a soldier,
tucked into a layer of grey-white undies,
the boyfriend, he’s braw, eh, Miss?

Alarm clocks rattle, sleepy-heads mumble,
what’s this, eh? where’s ma Coco Pops, eh?
Life jackets, canoes, Inuit style, slumber on the shore.
Water whooshes towards their feet. Eyes widen.

Nae way goes up the chant,
nae way at the very thought.

Loch Morar waits, glint under the widest blue.
Paddle hard, Atlantic bound,
never coming back. This is magic, Miss.



Maggie Mackay, a jazz and whisky loving Scot, has work in various print and online publications, including The Everyday Poet edited by Deborah Alma, Amaryllis, Bare Fiction, Ink, Sweat and Tears, The Fat Damsel, The Interpreter’s House, Prole, and The Poetry Shed.

The Rumblings of a Woman’s Tired Mind – by Maggie Mackay


                              Today began with a run to hold deadlines at bay,
stuttering, jolting, a trip on gravel,
a dog’s extendable lead tangled around her ankles,
                              in the borderlines of a park shooting
                promise of the coming spring birch, horse chestnut, lime,
a heavy breath of morning’s shiver, mosaic puddles of dishwater rain.
                              the dog owner deserting her, his only words were how unfortunate

She’d cancelled treats, that weekend at Mike’s,
               a day cut from a skiing week for a shock funeral,
gone, those evenings of gossip and bubbles,
the fizz fizzing, his heart burst like hers
                poked, picked to death by rumblings

spun under skies squeezing sandstone tenements walls, and diners spilling
                from pre-theatre eating,
                                the click clack of stiletto heels over cracked paving stones,
               cashmere coat brush against graffiti-splashed lampposts.

She stumbled up between muddled joggers,
counting steps against the joint ache
                                like a prodigal journeying towards a refuge,
               imagining her breath consumed by wood fire or the stench of hyena kill,
                                 the sweat of unwashed bodies on the Hill Road,
              mouthing prayers.

                                 She took sanctuary behind her shuttered sash windows,
              humming melodies, pushing through ankles,
                                            wrestling late winter-grey bare
                                                                         The year stacked
                                                                                        at a lilt on the ones before.




Maggie Mackay is enjoying life as a final year Masters Creative Writing student at Manchester Metropolitan University where she is currently working on her poetry portfolio. She has work in various print and online publications, including A New Manchester Alphabet, Bare Fiction, Ink, Sweat and Tears, The Interpreter’s House, ProleIndigo Dreams Publishing and in several Three Drops Press anthologies.