It's just poetry, it won't bite

First Offenses


10.09.18 Posted in today's words by

Sharon Kennedy-Nolle’s poetry has appeared or is upcoming in apt, Bluestem Magazine, Broad River Review, The Cape Rock, Chicago Quarterly Review, Delmarva Review, The Dickinson Review, Juked, Lindenwood Review, Menacing Hedge, OxMag, Pennsylvania English, The Round, Storyscape, Streetlight Magazine, Talking River, Zoned, and Westchester Review, among others, while her dissertation was published by the University of North Carolina Press under the title Writing Reconstruction: Race, Gender, and Citizenship in the Postwar South.

First Offenses
By Sharon Kennedy-Nolle

They say it’s haunted.

Scofield’s old reformatory juts out 1896,
set along the backside of the new reformatory,

Gothic grays against a steeled schoolhouse design, all done for
Ohio’s cell-blocked boys

who couldn’t find a spot
in Mansfield’s dried-up refineries, factories gone bust.

Too late for the Ghost tour,
my son and I stand outside, caught

in the orange hum
of parking lot lights and idling guards’ cars.

Christmas lights already
hang, limply mystic in the drizzle.

I panther-pace along the fence,
Riled from too much, even Sanka,

Looking up, wondering
Which window would I choose?

My son retreats,
far from the bars,

snapping the rubber bands hard
on his wrists.

Because suffering is always a tourist attraction:

Dawn, “mad dog” murder in the cornfield.

or, the warden’s wife done in by his shotgun.

or, stuffed under the mattress,

the life left in solitary.

It must be me.



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