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Living Room

Poets and Ambassadors for Conscience
by Patricia Spears Jones

May 20, 2019 | Poetry

Kelly Writers House

Patricia Spears Jones is a Brooklyn-based African-American poet. Her most recent collection, A Lucent Fire: New and Selected Poems, was a finalist for the Poetry Society of America’s 2016 William Carlos Williams Prize, as well as for the Paterson Poetry Prize. Her earlier books include Painkiller (Tia Chucha Press, 2010), Femme du Monde (Tia Chucha Press, 2006), and The Weather That Kills (Coffee House Press, 1995). In awarding her the prestigious 2017 Jackson Poetry Prize, judges praised her poetry’s composition of “fever, bones, and breath.”


Living Room

Marilyn Nance’s photograph—“Last Shot in Lagos”
One man in military uniform; the other in a long white robe
Plants that I cannot kill from neglect or from overwatering
A peacock feather wrapped in gold thread
Shimmering in dust; the CD rack tilting
Pictures of my family framed and scattered amongst
Hardcover books, stacks of magazines and souvenirs
Two new blue candleholders
Which match the blue art deco era vase
Bought on Flatbush in the Black man’s antiques Shoppe
Now replaced by SPRINT
The sharp blue light of this cold winter day
The way I think about lovers who made me smile
MILK, the movie not the drink
Guillermo’s fan for Bride of Kong Sing Along
We unavoidably sang off-key:

Ay, que pasó con ellas?
Que pasó con las novias de King Kong?
Ay King Kong!
Ay King Kong!

This is the fourth installment in The Spectator’s yearlong series featuring leading American poets who address issues of racism, human rights, and exile, among other social themes, in their work. The project is curated by Cyrus Cassells, whose most recent book is Still Life With Children: Selected Poems of Francesc Parcerisas (Stephen F. Austin University Press). “Living Room” is used by permission of Patricia Spears Jones and White Pine Press.

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