Cynthia Macdonald, whose idiosyncratic blend of humor and the grotesque made her a distinctive voice on the American poetry scene, died on Aug. 3 in a nursing home in Logan, Utah. She was 87.

The cause was heart failure, her daughter, Jennifer Macdonald, said.

Ms. Macdonald’s first volume of poetry, “Amputations,” published in 1972, introduced readers to the dark fun house of her imagination, populated by freaks and misfits whose harrowing circumstances she described with a light touch and verbal inventiveness. “When he cut off his feet I knew he was leaving,” the mother in “Departure” announces calmly, treating her son’s act of self-mutilation as a natural stage on the road to independence.

In her third collection, “(W)holes,” published in 1980, she described “the world’s fattest dancer,” fed on chocolates and “larded guinea hens,” twirling for the entertainment of the public: “Whoever dances with her, she is the biggest attraction.”

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