A Prodigal Poem: Caroline Parkman Barr’s All I Have to Offer

It is our pleasure to share Caroline Parkman Barr’s poem “All I Have to Offer” which will appear in NDQ 87.1/2

This poem had a bit of an odd journey through our editorial processes. It was lost in a file mix-up in the editorial office, then I promised it would appear later this year and offered to publishing it online as soon as I could. Then, in another little adventure (and with the collegial understanding of our publishers at University of Nebraska Press), it found a happy home in the issue that is being typeset even as we speak.

I hate when contributions have to take circuitous routes to get into the pages of our journal. This poem, in particular, and its author deserved better treatment. The poem is honest and vivid and will appear early in 87.1/2 as a kind of invocation for the entire volume. I’m very pleased and relieved that the author allowed us to find a place for the poem in the Quarterly.

Remember that NDQ relies on our outstanding contributors, editors, and subscribers to thrive. Please consider submitting to NDQsubscribing, or downloading our previous volume. For some content from from our most recent issue, NDQ 86.3/4, click here. For a preview from our next issue, 87.1/2, go here.   

All I Have to Offer

plum butter in the fridge,
the smell of coffee on my shirt.

I scrape the toast with butter
and you tell me you hate the sound,

the way the cat hair settles
on all we touch.

I am not the sum—
this apartment’s parts,

the ability to boil water.
I grind beans, froth milk in a machine.

Give me a book and I flip the pages—
for you, crush a can on my knee.

Press the garlic with my palm.
Prayer forming: may the knives
never dull, the milk jug empty.

I can’t imagine having less
or more, so much.

I hear the whine of the kettle on the stove.
Close my eyes like they’re full of light.


Caroline Parkman Barr is a graduate of the MFA Writing Program at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where she served as Poetry Editor of The Greensboro Review. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in RHINO, Connotation Press, South Carolina Review, and elsewhere. She is currently an editorial assistant for Poetry Northwest living in Birmingham, Alabama.

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