Featured Poet: November 2008 Vol. 1 #1

Kerry James Evans


Kerry James has been a finalist in both the Saturnalia and Kent State book contests as well as a finalist for Boston Review’s Discovery Award. He makes his home in southern Illinois, where he’s finishing up his last year in the MFA program of SIUC.





She is always the wheelbarrow—a piece

I can’t grasp. I am the cannon of war.


We never deal out property—the Deluxe

Edition, we’d rather fight, with each roll,

over New York and Boardwalk, Railroads

and Utilities. I’ve yet to own Boardwalk,


but I manage to swindle the Railroads.

Occasionally, I am lucky to land in jail,


where I don’t have to mortgage property

to pay rent. She buys hotels early, casts


me to the ghetto of Baltic. Once, I boasted

three monopolies, won Free Parking—


we place $500 in Free Parking. I bagged

my earnings from the middle, revealing


the moustached man with his shoulders

shrugged, hat tipped. He winked at a stack


of pastels tucked on the edge of town.

The game was fixed. She kept drawing


the good cards from the Community Chest

and Chance. I lived in the suburbs and she


was my landlord. Like my father, I slipped

off and got drunk on Boardwalk, gallivanted


for a while. It cost me everything—she owned

that, too. Fed up, I took out a loan at 10%


interest, paid her and passed Go, collected

two hundred dollars and made a run for it.


Got as far as Pennsylvania before she caught

me stealing shampoo from her hotel. Clogged


barrel, she broke me. Gave me the worst smile:

Cook me supper and I’ll let you stay.


                                      ~appeared originally in Eclipse Vol. 19, Fall 2008



          Blue Ribbon Tomato Soup


This is dinner: tomato soup

with black pepper and garlic salt,

a grilled cheese buttered

                                on both sides,


charred in the skillet on the stove.


I serve my brother and sister this meal

with napkins and plastic ware.

                                                We say grace.


Our parents are working.

Parents work.

                        The meal is superb.


I get a wink and a high-five, turn off

the stove eye—

                           sometimes I forget.


I am a chef at any restaurant imaginable:

Cracker Barrel, Country Kitchen,

the coffee shop on U.S. 78,

just before the peanut shack

in Carbon Hill.

                             My brother and sister agree.


They say I ought to enter the county fair.

Drape a cloth over my arm

                                            when I serve.


They remind me not to speak about how

food stamps paid for this meal.


We talk about the neighbors up the hill,

the expiration date on the milk jug.


                                                ~appeared originally in Court Green 2008





                   after Billy Collins


And this, canvas of paintless

numbers, this square, it

is the square

of my imagination, four

corners and seam

running from this

middle, my mother’s awful

trailer, the children

she keeps in daycare—

a square daycare, where I look

back into memory and recall

the driest of squares,

an empty pan

of meatloaf, ketchup

crusting in our stomachs

—my brothers and sisters

and all the children mothers keep.

And I think of the square world

and how it stumbles

down the stairs of space,

while we square off the yard

to plant seed, to remind

our children of what they

cannot have, while we

sample wine from a boxed

bowl, its drip,

dripping on the tile floor

of this, our grouted design.


                ~appeared originally in Iron Horse Literary Review Volume 10 #2, 2008


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