Victoria C. Flanagan


My father taught me well: you can split whole cords
with a chipped maul & still forsake

the shed. Proof: corner store ruptured
by weeds chin-high, even the school

has closed. Out here, tire plants landmark,
mill men drift and jaw on:

If you cut both a man’s hands from his body,
even his family will think him dead.

Father, debtor, crankhead, snitch.

No one revenge will do—you need belief
of one kind or another. Steam idles over

the recycling plant, slack bales queue up
in these, our dry fields, & his bones

won’t thaw before March.

To be girl in a place where bruise
is prelude—we all learn quick.

Can’t speak clear of a name, my father
taught me well: Out here, you ask a man for mercy

he’ll spit and call you senseless.

You ask the land to spare you,
it gives you sons instead.

Victoria C. Flanagan holds a dual-genre MFA in poetry and creative nonfiction from Virginia Commonwealth University. A finalist for the 2019 BOAAT Chapbook Prize and the Akron Poetry Prize, their writing has been awarded the Catherine and Joan Byrne Poetry Prize from the Academy of American Poets, the 2018 Emerging Poets Prize from Palette Poetry, and a Sewanee Writers’ Conference scholarship, among other honors. Flanagan’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in New South, Crab Creek Review, Palette Poetry, Beloit Poetry Journal, and Blackbird, among other journals. They serve as nonfiction editor for Anomaly and teach in central Washington.