Privacy in a Small Town

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March 19, 2020 by The Citron Review

by Stephen Scott Whitaker


Ask someone who lives in a small town
to swallow a Ferris wheel and they will
turn over secrets to a happy life.
Privacy? Perhaps summer, winter,
when windows are clapped shut, otherwise
Desires and fears cry out in the air
that flows and waves seaside to bayside
and channels in between. “This is why!
This is why!” parents calliope,
coming down on a son everyone
knows cheats at school and life. His grandfather
shrunk his partner’s aces. Why should he
be any different? The old man
who wears blouses, his gray chest hair flowers
over lace and through gold ropes. Who loves
who and how? It is so and so and so
in the carnival open windows make
of crowned streets. Ballygirls with new coats,
mirror bound strongmen practicing boasts,
blondes vanishing through grandstand windows,
a sour mashed pitchman for late night
money. A rabbit ringer along hedgerows.
Iron jaw work in America’s backyard,
We watch, we see, we are terrible neighbors.


Stephen Scott Whitaker is a member of the National Book Critics Circle and the managing editor for The Broadkill Review. Whitaker is a teaching artist with the Virginia Commission for the Arts, an educator, and a grant writer. His poems have appeared in Oxford Poetry, The Scores, Crab Creek Review, Third Wednesday, among other journals. He is the author of four chapbooks of poetry and a broadside from Broadsided Press. Mulch, his novel of weird fiction is forthcoming from Montag Press in 2020. Find him on Twitter: @SScottWhitaker


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