The first time I almost died
It was the end of summer.
The sky was the color of stones
At the bottom of a lake
And there were no stars.

I was on my back
Watching headlights
Flutter like fireflies
I counted the cars as I counted
My breaths, each inhale
Something to do before the imminent
Arrival of camera crews.

When they finally found me
The sounds of dribbling basketballs
Were replaced with sirens.
My limbs splayed on concrete,
Glowing cell phones
Formed moving constellations.




Poem read by Jesse Kuhn




Chavonn Williams Shen is a Minneapolis native and an educator. She was a first place winner for the 2017 Still I Rise grant for African American women hosted by Alternating Current Press and a 2017 Pushcart Prize nominee. She was also a 2017 Best of the Net Award finalist, a winner of the 2016-2017 Mentor Series in Poetry and Creative Prose through the Loft Literary Center, and a 2016 fellow through the Givens Foundation for African American Literature. Her poetry has appeared in Footnote #4: A Literary Journal of History, A3 Review, and The Coil. Writing has shown Chavonn to use art to explore new worlds, build communities, and advocate for the marginalized. She is currently pursuing her MFA in creative writing at Hamline University.


Photo by Peter Limthongviratn



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