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Sharon Kennedy-Nolle


The Boy in the Red Vest by Paul Cezanne

Entering the homeless/motherless Bronx,
I am now summoned

to listen to your CD, come suddenly unstuck,
after ten spinless years in the player

Eminem is telling me his eight-ball troubles again,
troubles that you loved.

I now listen to a song you said
I would need to love someday,

passing the brown-fringed edge of Orchard Beach,
where small bass gasp on dirty sand,

into the deadly 25 mph camera zone, where rehabbers loose
from the state facility stand, stalled

on the double yellow I crawl along,
avoiding other strays I can’t save,

who stalk skinny in weedy glass-ground parking lots.
I listen to what I can’t help

but hear the words loud and clear
as I follow the ambulance through,

—any will do—
no siren needed

where dusk visitors to Calvary Hospice hunch and hurry
avoiding the Christmas glare, glad to get out

as I did when your grandmother died;
her morphined view of that hard high-rise with its steel-eyed windows,

slits narrowed on this forsaken world

and you gone, God, five years from a habit—

So much hit

says “Mockingbird”

What will I hit?


About the writer:
Sharon Kennedy-Nolle received an MFA from the Writers’ Workshop as well as a doctoral degree in nineteenth-century American literature from the University of Iowa and MAs from Johns Hopkins University and NYU. Chosen as the 2020 Chapbook Editor’s Pick by Variant Literature Press, Black Wick was published in 2021.

Image: The Boy in the Red Vest by Paul Cezanne (1839-1906). Oil on canvas. 31.8 × 33.4 inches. Between 1888 and 1890. 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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