Lit Issue 2018 | Poetry

Where I’m From

The following works emerged from a semester-long workshop offered this past spring at Prison + Neighborhood Arts Project (PNAP) entitled “Mapping the Self in Community.” The workshop was facilitated by Audrey Petty, Jill Petty, and Miriam Petty. The description is included below:

Lit Issue 2018 | Prose


Taking you back again to the time when I was a little boy; eight years old, living with mom and dad in the first-floor apartment on South Ingleside Avenue.  We had a living room, bedroom, kitchen and bathroom. Furniture was functional and looked nice. Dad kept his precious books on a shelf next to the bed and Mom had her sewing machine set up in a corner near the back door.  My Lincoln Logs, toy trucks and trains were everywhere. Not a lot of space, but I was happy. And I’d say we were all happy. Dad was working at a Downtown theatre and Mom catering. We lived the average Southside of Chicago life in the mid-Nineteen-fifties.

Lit Issue 2018 | Poetry

Time Travel: J.C. Penney Photo Studio, 1994

this photo wasn’t planned:
we’re just here
for my son’s annual
picture to be mailed
with Christmas cards
he’s three now
wearing a rainbow patchwork shirt
hugging Big Bird
Jennie my bestfriend
in blue-flowered top
sitting in her electric
I’m in raggedy
faded t-shirt
never expecting
“Hey, why don’t I take the three of you?”
my arms encircle
my son and my friend
my curly-haired son’s smile
beams trust
Jennie looks ready to laugh
and I’m grinning innocent
Jennie would die in four years
I’d lose my father and another friend
but in this moment
I have the world

Lit Issue 2018 | Poetry

a sudden spring (Nichols Park in May)

running daisy chains
up my spine,
sunlight halos
on our heads.
pounding feet
against new green
& crows above
singing the direction
of the wind.
the tingle
of small, excited hands
set to gathering.
we tread edges
of parks,
climb bottoms
of trees,
follow the skuttle
of forgotten tennis balls.
we string Ravyn Lenae
between our ears,
lulled by the
sudden sun.
afternoon kaleidoscope of
heartstrings drawn,
a fluid triangle
invading green spaces
like curious amoeba

Lit Issue 2018 | Poetry


I stand alone, collar lifted
Headphones cupping ears
against wind. My blush only
a stun from Midwestern wind
on my cheeks. My bare hands
stuffed deep in down jacket
pockets, thick soles braced
against concrete. This city
breaks icily under my skin
like a bitter lover who keeps
coming back to some honey
caught beneath this ribcage,
where another winter resides—
thick and predictable. Lipstick—
red sharper than a whetted blade,
a bright brutality like a weapon
raised before I lift my hood
and face a descent of degrees.