Literary Orphans

Hall Of Cost by Cassandra Dallett

dani_looks_2_by_plamen stoev

On Dre

I was addicted to a boy addicted to chewing gum.

I used to find it stuck

in my hair, my nightgown, and my sheets.

When he was mad

he hit me hard, kicked me when I fell down.

But when my face leaned into his tall chest

his white t-shirt’s soft cotton, Juicy Fruit,

and Snuggle fabric softener

I never wanted to leave.

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We Are All Broken, I Tell Him 

We all think ours the worst wreckage

The closest to mouth on exhaust in locked garage

sleeping pills at the bedside, delicate wrists upturned

But here we are, so buy the ticket get back on the ride

He says he misses the sharp edge of his depression

when he was that, he knew who he was

it’s a poetic moment for a man not big on words

and when I think about leaving him I think about that

and the brown in his eyes, the brown in his Ben Davis work shirt

I feel like the monster who ran over a possum last night

felt its body meat under my wheels

I think about the trail of blood on highway 13

the crumpled deer staring at me from the shoulder

the kettle is shrieking at us     that we are broken

ready to be poured into the arms of a cup

all bubbling boil

all one heartbreak away from revving the engine in the closed garage

we are all meat on the highway

picking ourselves up

for one last brawl.

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Mom, I’m Just Like You

Hip Hop I loved on first listen

Seventh grade in the cold country winter

a white kid holding a boom box on the playground

I memorized ever word of Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five

People Think I’m Nasty People Think I’m Wrong

I heard The Message I learned it

the streets gospel from Melle Mel

fresh from the bottom to the top

I drank Gin and Juice Before Snoop

house parties got turned out

cassette tapes recorded from KPOO every Sunday

we hit the triangle button before Yo MTV Raps

and then all that too but I didn’t just listen


I had to breath black intellectualism and gangsterism

I had to have a baby by the ex con realer than real deal Holyfield

live in housing, walk broke pushing my brown baby’s stroller, marginalized

I toted the books Sister Souljah told me read

my first albums told me Six In The Morning Police At My Door

my fresh Adidas squeak across bathroom floor

NWA and UTFO inhaled with white lines Whodini’s magic

thought I would be an old white lady in the ghetto

these babies gathered round

I can cook and I had to cause it was in the music I ran to

there was history fried chicken and grits

that I didn’t have

I grew up on borrowed time a culture of someone else


Mom I got this from you

you loved Bluegrass

found it a barefoot teenager in the folk clubs of legend

so Beat Nick the music sang in your veins

hungry you learned to strum guitar

you didn’t just sing it you lived it

built houses chiseling wood gardening vegetables

the songs of working fingers to bone of boney fingers sewing clothes

singing the blue out of the grass

sucking the grass through thin lips

licking pressing Zig Zags tight white and perfect

fingers flat on strings heart break ringing into green valleys

blue collar shoulder blades pushing skyward

like cathedral rooftops

maybe it’s the Ireland in us

but some part of the pale mish mash we pass as

we sing for flight

we sing for home

to feel

we live inside music

shape our very cells to the sound

our whole lives to the pitch

it is our only identity.

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Cassandra Dallett lives in Oakland, CA., you can call her a poet or a storyteller with a short attention span. She has published in many journals in print and online, look  for links and upcoming features at A book of poems, Wet Reckless was released from Manic D Press spring of 2014.


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–Art by Jan Rockar

–Art by Plamen Stoev

–Art by Joel Hohner