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.