Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Featured KY Author, Nickole Brown

by Nickole Brown

I know I didn’t come home
again this year, but I did come
close, came all the way out to the place
that sells trees in the parking lot
between the fast food joint and super store.
You know the one, a fence strung up
with bare bulbs the size of fists, all the trees
roped sloppy, their starless tops pointing
every direction but up, a semi truck
with an open gate selling
mottled oranges, unshelled peanuts, peppermint
poles, jogging pants.

The woman who stepped out
of the sleeper cab was another one of those
could-be-pretties, rubbed raw by wind, and
her hair, dyed three shades
too light, floated two inches above brown
root, the white tips disappearing into winter
sky. She says, I’ll give you
that tree there for thirty.

These trees are thirty dollars? I ask.
No, I said I’d give YOU
that THERE tree for thirty, her voice gritted
with hate—to her, I am a snot, a faux
fur, an artsy-fartsy Holly Hobby from
Bardstown Road. I can sell some trees now
for cheap, she says, Do you hear?
For cheap. I feel poverty’s

contagion come over me,
like I’ll catch something
if I stay too long, that I’ll turn
again into a kid clutching
a doll that does nothing special
but close her eyes
when you lay her back.
I start to leave when
I’m stopped—a reindeer head
dressed in baseball cap and tie, hung
on a wall plaque. What’s more, he’s
animated, singing "My Old Kentucky Home," and
under him a woman propped
in a wheelchair
laughing and singing along. Her skull
comes up through her face
fierce like a spring bulb, she is green, almost
gray, her complexion the shade
of just a few weeks left.

Sister, I am ashamed to say it
but I was frightened—not of death
but resignation, the acceptance
of enough, gifts wrapped under a tree
with its bad side pushed
to the wall, the holiday
jar of hard candy
stuck in one multi-colored lump.

Nickole's Bio
Nickole Brown is the author of Sister, published by Red Hen in September 2007. She graduated from the M.F.A. Program for Creative Writing at Vermont College. She has received grants from the Kentucky Foundation for Women and the Kentucky Arts Council. She studied English Literature at Oxford University as an English Speaking Union Scholar, and was the editorial assistant for the late Hunter S. Thompson. Her work has been featured in The Writer's Chronicle, Poets & Writers, 32 Poems, The Cortland Review, Chautauqua Literary Journal, Diagram Magazine, Another Chicago Magazine, Mammoth Books' Sudden Stories anthology, and Starcherone Press anthology PP / FF. She also co-edited the anthology, Air Fare: Stories, Poems, & Essays on Flight. She has served as the National Publicity Consultant for the Palm Beach Poetry Festival and as the Program Coordinator for the Union Institute & University writing residency in Slovenia. Nickole has worked at a nonprofit, independent, literary press, Sarabande Books for eight years. She currently lives in Louisville, Kentucky.


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