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Shanna Compton

The Woman from the Public

When I was in the fourth grade
  School system. The woman from the public
My science teacher drove me every day
  Library. The woman from the public
After school to the public
  Hospital. The woman elected to public
Library. I waited there for my mother
  Office. The woman who claimed to own public
Who worked in a government building
  Property. The woman from the Public
A few blocks away. Red tiles topped
  Works Commission. The woman from the public
The roof of the public library.
  Park. The woman who in public
Upstairs there were private carrels
  Wore gold jewelry even while jogging. Public
For earnest students from the junior
  Sentiment against the woman who supported public
College. Ms. Grisom drove a silver
  Stonings in an editorial. Public
Pacer. Once she asked me
  Television's special, "Becoming a Woman." Public
What I would make if I knew how to make
  Humiliation of a woman named Looney. Public
Something. I didn't understand
 Appreciation of works on paper by female artists. Public
What she meant by that. Her first
 Lot number 4037. The woman from the Public
Name was Charlotte, I think.
Defender's Office. The woman from the public
The back stairs smelled like soup.
  Pool. The women's action group against public
The library was always quiet and I was alone.

The Argument

The blue chair near the bookcase holds his casualty.
He catches his breath to speak, a continental task.
They check themselves, begin to size up the lay between them.

She flips on the TV. The world floods the startled room.
They're two tight citizens stunned by its geographic presence.
Perhaps it's not a multinational crisis, yet.

He pulls out his notebook. It's under the orange chair.
See this photo? It's them in 1994.
She thinks, Please, honey, let's not keep score.

We both need sleep. It's not as if we tied
a triple knot in the line our lives will take.
Two hundred arguments have come before.

They open the windows and doors
to air things out. It was nothing.
Things are not so grim in their small country.


Shanna Compton is the editor of LIT, the literary journal of New School University. She also works for Soft Skull Press, the intrepid press in downtown Brooklyn. Her poems have or will appear in Nerve, Gastronomica, Painted Bride Quarterly, La Petite Zine, CROWD, Good Foot, Thee Flat Bike and elsewhere. She's got a manuscript called Brand New Insects she's shopping around. When she was in high school, she paved streets in her small Texas hometown and thereby picked up a decently fluent Spanglish.

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