Edward Francisco





                 “Southern writers are educated, usually by their own solitary reading—a habit
                   that almost immediately separates them from everybody they know,
                   especially while they are growing up.”   Richard Marius


Fingering down the page,

he searches for one word

that will shed light

on the landscape of ochres,

rusts, and browns defining

his ceaseless winter.


He even dreams in color,

undreamt of by the lined faces

and evaporating lips of those

stamped on wanted posters,

awaiting a death sentence

in black and white.


He knows it has to be there.

With a finger thin as a pencil,

he stabs at possibilities:

ungrateful, unhappy, unloved,

at ten, he’s already mastered

the prefixes of despair.


It’s not bad being alone,

he tells himself. Once he won

the spelling bee, and his third-grade

teacher proclaimed him a whiz

when it came to the weekly

vocabulary drills.


Soon he’ll find what he’s
                        looking for: all the words

                                        that can tell a story

no one will believe.

They’ll say he’s far-fetched,

unconvincingly imaginative.


They’ll point out how

he should curb the impulse

to spin yarns, tall tales,

and loathsome urban legends.

He’ll respond by telling them

it was only objective reporting.