We Can Fry Anything

By Abby E. Murray

Featured Art: Sunshine by Bill Dooley, John Marquis, Wendy Minor Viny

I’m at the fair to test

   how American my blood cells are

      and whether my heart

is the monster pumpkin I forced

   from the mouth of a flower,

      big as a tractor and thirsty AF.

When I say give me something fried

   I don’t mean cubes of cheesecake

      or spools of battered bacon,

I mean give me what I never thought

   could be skewered in the first place,

      give me executive orders,

give me stolen land

   served on a stick and wrapped

      in white paper smeared with oil.

I want to put my failures

   on a Ferris wheel then watch them

      pause at the top, ready to jump.

I want to spin my hunger in circles

   till it stumbles off course,

      till it faints in a heap of tickets.

There’s a barn full of horses

   who’d rather be pulling my envy

      across miles of broken rocks

than staring at the same blue ribbon.

   At least my envy is real.

      Let’s set the bulls loose

from the rodeo corral,

   let’s go tenderize some cowboys.

      I’m tougher than the strong man

paid to flex behind the carousel,

   I’ve got a parrot on my shoulder

      trained to cuss you out in French.

At the high striker I smash

   the mallet so hard the moon blinks out

      in a sputter of red and blue stars.

I’m at the fair and my veins

   are filled with syrup

      we could easily spin like sugar

then dissolve in a single cup of water,

   my bones are suspended upside down

      on a machine named after war.

I’m screaming who I am in silence.

   Don’t you want to see if I survive?

      Don’t you want to take my picture?     

Author Abby E. Murray is the editor of Collateral, a literary journal concerned with the impact of violent conflict and military service beyond the combat zone. She teaches rhetoric in writing military strategy for army officers on fellowship from the Army War College at the University of Washington, and she offers free creative writing workshops for immigrants, soldiers, veterans, and their loved ones around Tacoma, Washington, where she is the city’s poet laureate. Her book, Hail and Farewell, won the Perugia Press Poetry Prize and was released in September 2019. You can reach her at www.abbyemurray.com

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