In the Sky, They Are Lineless by Sara McGuirk

(after Ronaldo V. Wilson)

I say: Crayola & you think color
(Association) & I wonder how much
We associate with color—tie to—attribute,
Collect (like bottlecaps in our knapsacks),
Throw at other kids at recess on the playground-grid-iron

& I consider
Color-coding, color-creaming, crinkling colored letters into
The words our children drag in
(Doorstep-dead-birds) with their dirty soap-tongue—
Words encoded by color

Case in point, in pointed pigment:
They had a color they called flesh (until 1962),
& guess
Just which shade it was,
(Just what peachy—perky & deserving shade)
Its snowflakes unstained by freckles even,
A complexion so fair—so in(politically)correct—
It’s nothing “personal,” just how they conduct their
Business

Then; in 1999,
They made a collector’s set: Crayolas infused with glitter
& I’m thinking: which
Abusive name would we use to shame the boy
Who kept those (secret) in his knapsack
—If he showed us—if he drew (unclothed) the most magnificent
Of masculine mermaidens,
(The most shameless we’ve ever seen) on this liquid, spectral, limitless beach—
How; would we snap him into wax-bit pieces?
Infringe upon his glittered drawing,
(This drifting masterpiece we
Should—instead—be flaunting
On every Mommy’s bone-bleach fridge)?
So; I want you to do just this &:
Bloom in living color—Oz it all—
Inside-outside-in (what lines?)
Let’s crack-crumble our crayons,
Our bodiless children’s finger-painted handprints
Un-white-washed by the pitiless, pesky,
Branded (brand-name) flesh (our Fisher-Priced pound of flesh),
Yelling (loud as living, lip-leavening color),
Left untouch-untortured by the name on a sliver of my color-glove,
My uncovered sleeve—no—
Color; me in love
& lovely in it all at once—a muddy gray, a grain
Of the whole col-igraphy                    (The language of the rainbow)
A (child playing with a)
Kaleidoscope                                      Wonders

At why we bother naming others—at all


Sara McGuirk is an incoming poet at the Iowa City Writer’s Workshop this year. She graduated from The University of Notre Dame with concentrations in English and Film Production. She perceives poetry as a montage of images and emotions directed by the music of language itself.

White Privilege in Mass Shootings

ShooterEthnicity

During acts of violence in the United States, we tend to racialize the perpetrator and stereotype their motives. However, a white active shooter’s race is never part of the headline. Their motives are humanized as we lament on the poor mental health services of the US. Of course, anyone who commits mass murder suffers from mental health issues, yet white shooters’ racial or ethnic group isn’t part of the dominant conversation.

Ultra by Shannon Curtin

While waiting for weeks to find out if my unborn child would be declared a son or daughter, I scoured the internet for insider information. Pouring over potty shots on various baby websites, I learned from other genital-obsessed, with-child women that sonogram technology has advanced in recent years; identifying a fetus as female no longer rests on the absence of a penis, but now includes the detection of definitive labia. This is nothing short of a victory.

I like to point out to my I’m not a feminist, but acquaintances that until relatively recently men could legally rape their wives in the United States and that workplace sexual harassment was made unlawful in my lifetime. Earlier this year, a sexually assaulted student at one of our country’s most prestigious universities gave up her fight to have her attacker relocated out of her residence hall. After months of pleading, the university told her that she, the victim, was free to move if she wished and washed their hands of any responsibility.

Even in utero females have historically found their identity in absence, they are categorized as not male, the second half of an if/then statement, the other. They are marked as lacking before they take their first breath. We tell ourselves things have changed, that women are no longer second class. Women, we say, are out-performing men in schools. They are capable, respected, and present in every possible industry. They say we have come so far.

But in darkened rooms we still look at screens with images that tell us when there is something damaged, something suspect, something missing; the result is often girl.


Shannon J. Curtin is a displaced Yankee currently residing in Portsmouth, Virginia with her husband and dog. Her poetry has been featured in various publications including Short, Fast, and Deadly, Vox Poetica, y’all’d’ve, and The Camel Saloon. Her first chapbook, File Cabinet Heart, is forthcoming from Emerge Literary Publications. She holds an MBA, competitive shooting records, and her liquor. She would probably like you.