A Walk in the Neighborhood

John Monagle


Beyond the traffic light, the warped
and cracked sidewalk ascends the rise to the park.
At the apex are sights and sounds of a city
with the strong aroma of flesh in an oven.
Al Pacino greeted me at the door of a restaurant,
his arm around my shoulders as we went inside.
Only men sat at the tables. Some were chubby,
most were obese. They wore white, blue, or red polo shirts,
either navy blue or black blazers and khaki pants.
They were Americans who immigrated from every continent.
On plates before them were large cuts of meat.
Red juices flowed from within as they carved.
In every large wine glass was blood red wine.
Pacino tightly grabbed my shoulders and asked,
“Don’t you want to be American?”

I am not hungry.

I walk thirty minutes west of the restaurant
to the town square with play grounds
and picnic tables on a grassy slope.
Edward Snowden is seated at a table
under an oak. Before him is a large cold water bottle
beside a pile of four manila envelopes marked TOP SECRET.
Inside the top envelope is a thick stack of paper
in a binder clip entitled “The Holy Gospel According to John.”
I returned the stack to the envelope and placed it back
on the pile underneath the water bottle
that becomes a bottle of white wine. Snowden smiles.
Young men in sunglasses, wearing
black suits with black ties on button down
white shirts with black socks and black wingtips
stride quickly toward us from every direction.

We do not move.




A recent Jack Straw Writer’s Resident and MFA graduate at the University of Washington, Corbin Louis is a Seattle native making work out of a legacy of grunge and rain and illness. Each piece serves as a form of sublimation, transforming dysfunction into arrangements of self-reflection and cultural critique. Corbin’s goal as an artist is to garner awareness and support around mental illness by creating pieces that shriek for understanding, and he has been published by Best American Experimental Writing, Random Sample Review, Visible Poetry Project and others.