One Night

By Jeff Knorr

Featured Art: Sarina’s Flowers by Sarina Winner, Nancy Dick, Wendy Minor Viny

But not just any night,

on the 26th floor of the New Otani Hotel

the night of your aunt’s wedding

your new uncle and I threw centerpieces,

beautiful flowers in glass volleyball-sized

vases out of the window of their hotel room

in downtown L.A.  We dropped them, in 

amazement, the air flattening petals of roses,

the baby’s breath.  They blew out

like cannon balls on the sidewalk—

flowers, soil, Styrofoam, glass.  Ten times

we could have killed someone with one of those

centerpieces, our drunkenness—

it could have been over as soon as it started.

Your aunt’s anger flared hot as a brand.

We could be wearing the same prison orange. 

I escaped some wild death, manslaughter

by wind, by stupid luck, but you on the other hand

drive the car through our neighborhood,

stop for a cigarette with friends, have brown skin–

you ride, get pulled over, the cops

looking for you and your brothers.


Jeff Knorr is the author of four books of poetry, including The Color of a New Country, The Third Body, Keeper, and Standing Up to the Day. Jeff was the Poet Laureate for the city and county of Sacramento from 2012-2016. He lives in Sacramento, California and is Professor of Literature and Creative Writing at Sacramento City College.

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