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francine j. harris

Years: 03, 07, 08


francine j. harris is a Cave Canem graduate and has work appearing in McSweeney's "Poets Picking Poets", Ninth Letter, Ploughshares, Boxcar and in an anthology by the AIDS Project of Los Angeles: to be left with the body.  She is currently pursuing an MFA in Poetry at the University of Michigan.


I live in Detroit   She said I live in Detroit. And there are no flowers in Detroit. So why would anyone in Detroit write about flowers in Detroit. I don’t tell her we live under the trees. Root up curbs and dam fire hydrants to water black pansies licked to the sides of popped black balloons in Detroit. I’m smashed with the fish under Eastern Market. When the flower vendors douse the cement, I’m the pollen blown off backs of butterflies in Detroit. Like a lot of flowers, I have split my stem. Cleaved into root balls. Stuck to sweaty bus windows. Like so much dandelion, I get rinsed down shelter shower drains in Detroit. There are plenty of violets in flophouses. Pistols broken open on forty-ounce mouth lids making honeybees bastards in Detroit. I don’t tell her look around you. I don’t point out the bottoms of coffee cups where the city spits iris and scratches the back of your throat in Detroit. I tell her: some of our mothers rescued begonias with cheap plastic planters. Some of them braided pine into sheets, so we could never sleep again in Detroit. I wonder if it counts if I wish for frangipani. When I dream in ten spikes of passionflower to cuff inside my elbow. If I can’t leave. Is that enough flower grounded in Detroit. - from Boxcar Poetry Review, November 2008