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Sharon Kennedy-Nolle


The Boy in the Red Vest by Paul Cezanne

These days, I hibernate
like propane caged, highly flammable,
at Sunoco, next to the Old Dutch Church
Burying Ground, where I could pitch a match.
Instead, I lie under sycamores, among brown stones
and broken pumpkins strewn toward the Pocantico run,
Ichabod clod, Rip lost, schooled fool,
who’s a character now? Who are you?
Surrounded by epitaphs and effigies of a Hessian and these huisvrouw souls,
dunces all, they answer,
“I was once what you are, and what I am you will be.”
No Katrina courting, no Brom chase; no funny finale,
just a ghost
story without a ghost.
Save your grave,
which stays headless like the horseman
who once so terrified you,
you broke off, running ahead in tears
from the town’s Halloween parade one year.
Heading back now, a great web,
spun from under the train platform streetlight;
it weaves into the September night wind,
tremors to my closing eyes, the rain-rinsed sky
over the reservoir, that reservoir
catches Irving’s
“remnant of a troubled life.”


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. 35.2 x 28.5 inches. Between 1888 & 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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