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Lynne Potts


WPA Mural, Cohen Building, Washington D.C.

Where does it exist? Under the semaphore, after the rock band,
when the shoe drops? You can’t tell with a state of mind—
with a state like America, once stone and woods, then prairie
wagons, then John Deere with a flouncy awning over the driver,
blimps over stadiums, rubber gloves, stainless escalators
buoyed up and all with heart, yes—flags and tubas.

Who has not flattened a nickel on a track, I ask. You say,
not everyone, and that’s America too, the smashed buffalo,
eyes glazed by the sun, blood dried to red patties while
the band plays on, those in the stands cheering, many
with change to buy hot dogs—which is what it’s
about too—and logs for tracks laid by men from China.

But what about the left shoe you ask: is it a left shoe or
shoe left on the step of a small bungalow in Belle Flower,
California where a grandmother with knuckled index finger
points to the best spot for burying coffee grounds. She’s
mine—all four sons shot, one in war, two on alcohol, one himself,
and a daughter who died early, her crooked index finger now mine.

All here in the picture waving, waving, though which kind
of wave you don’t know: lovers at opposite ends of Atlantic City’s
boardwalk, traffic cop in white gloves at school crossings, Red Sox
fan behind the catcher’s stand, you can’t tell in this land where
you landed, except you’re here, waiting in line with your groceries,
with some kind of soft spot, albeit hid in your heart, for America.


About the writer:
More than 150 poems by Lynne Potts have appeared in Paris Review, Denver Quarterly, California Quarterly, Meridian, Southern Humanities Review, FUSION, The Literary Review, New American Writing, Broken City Review, Crazy Horse, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Southern Poetry Review, American Letters and Commentary, Tampa Review, Gettysburg Review, Texas Review, Guernica, Cincinnati Review, SPEC, New Millennium Writing and numerous other journals. Her first book, PORTHOLE VIEW, and a second, MAME, SOL, AND DOG BARK were published by National Poetry Review Press. A third book, THE RELENTLESS PRONOUN, was published by the Glass Lyre Press. Selected by the Massachusetts Cultural Council as a 2012 Fellow, she has also been awarded fellowships by Virginia Colony for the Creative Arts, Ragdale, and Moulin a Nef in France. She was a featured poet on WKCR and Poetry Daily—and has read her work at the KGB Bar and Poets House in New York, and at New England Poetry Club, Grolier Book Store (the original!) in Boston, and in countless other venues in both cities. Enjoy more of Lynne Potts’s work collected in a new PDF pamphlet Family Photo of America now in release from O:JA&L’s Buttonhook Press.

Image: WPA Mural, Cohen Building, Washington D.C. No artist specified. No medium specified. No size specified. By 1939. Photograph by Carol M. Highsmith (1946- ). Public domain.

OJAL Art Incorporated, publishing since 2017 as OPEN: Journal of Arts & Letters (O:JA&L) and its imprint Buttonhook Press, is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation supporting writers and artists worldwide.

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