The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: JoAnn Balingit’s “Words for House Story”


The Swing

My son says Push me harder
Push me a lot and I try

To remember laughing on the swing
my father roped to the grapefruit tree

But all I get is the sad seat the RFK-is-dead seat
twisting my toes crying in the dust

at-a-phone-booth seat

Where I swung in gasps for my parents
alive one minute

And exhilaration the next or anger
it was their fault they died and Myra ran away

Dead and gone or not I had
Kools any old time I wanted and Mateus

But what was I doing packing my albums
to live with the ex-addict girl and her dull

Family who hated cats who did not allow
cats? Because of their dogs—Oh I love them

Love them I beamed Pulling him back
Pushing him with all my might

This selection comes from JoAnn Balingit’s book Words for House Story, available now from WordTech Editions. Purchase your copy here!

JoAnn Balingit is the author of Words for House Story and two award-winning chapbooks. Her work has appeared in Best New Poets, Cutthroat, DIAGRAM, Salt Hill and Verse Daily; and she’s been a featured performer at Sunday Salon NYC, Woman Made Gallery in Chicago and Feats of Poetic Strength in Philadelphia. As Delaware’s poet laureate and an arts-in-education advocate, she coordinates the state’s Poetry Out Loud contest and Delaware’s Scholastic Writing Awardsprogram for grades 7 – 12. Fellowships from the Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts and the Camargo Foundation (as a 2014 Bread Loaf Bakeless Fellow in fiction) have been vital to her work. JoAnn is an assistant editor at YesYes Books. Please visit at!

Melanie Jordan‘s chapbook, Ghost Season, is available from Ropewalk Press; her work has been published in the Iowa Review, Birmingham Poetry Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Poetry Southeast, Third Coast, DIAGRAM, Southeast Review, and others. She studied Creative Writing at the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga before receiving her MFA from Southern Illinois University Carbondale and her doctorate from the University of Houston. She currently teaches Creative Writing, literature, and composition at the University of West Georgia. Her debut collection,Hallelujah for the Ghosties, was published by Sundress in 2015.

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