Weak at the Knees

Denise likes Now and Laters,
Pepsi, not Coke, and breakfast,

because nobody can
frown over her

mama’s French toast.
She likes to rip

the backside off fireflies
and stick them

to her earlobes
as though they were earrings.

She feels awful
for killing them. The glowing

show she likes though.
She likes her Kool-Aid

blue and her clothes
purple. She thinks folks

just look good
in purple, especially

her with her high yellow
skin. She likes chicken

but only the skin and soap
operas because they never

end. If only real life
was like this, she wishes

because then her granny
would still braid her

hair, and she could still hear
Ella’s bright purple knockers

knock as they played
hopscotch in the park, the sky

that yellow pierced
blue it is before dark. 

Douglas Manuel was born in Anderson, Indiana. He received a BA in Creative Writing from Arizona State University and an MFA from Butler University. He is currently a Middleton and Dornsife Fellow at the University of Southern California where he is pursuing a PhD in
Literature and Creative Writing. His poems are featured on Poetry Foundation’s website and have appeared or are forthcoming in Zyzzyva, Pleiades, Poetry Northwest, The Los Angeles
Review, Superstition Review, Rhino, North American Review, The Chattahoochee Review, New Orleans Review, Crab Creek Review, and elsewhere. His first full length collection of poems, Testify (Red Hen Press, 2017), won an IBPA Benjamin Franklin Award for poetry. In 2018, he traveled to Egypt and Eritrea with The University of Iowa’s International Writing Program to teach poetry. In 2020, he received the Dana Gioia Poetry Award and a fellowship from the Borchard Foundation Center on Literary Arts to travel to San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico to write.

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