This selection, chosen by guest editor Katie Manning, is from Not Flowers by Noreen Ocampo, released by Variant Lit in 2022.
I would fit in seamlessly in the belly of any claw machine swelling with plush toys. Imagine: me & the duck with the very pink cheeks & the pillow-shaped corgi that’s all hear—wouldn’t we be grand, the three of us & our eighty- six closest friends? Softness would be the most desirable way to lack, the way we would slip through silver & cushion each other’s tumbles. We would only have to say goodbye once a year at most, & if the time really came, we would celebrate that our friend was going home to someone with steady hands & conviction.
Noreen Ocampo is a Filipino American writer and poet from metro Atlanta. Her collection Not Flowers won the 2021 Variant Lit Microchap Contest, and her work can also be found in Palette Poetry, Sundog Lit, and Depth Cues, among others. She holds a BA in English from Emory University and currently studies poetry in the MFA program at The University of Mississippi, where she is working to document and elevate stories of Filipino Americans in the Deep South.
Katie Manning is the author of Hereverent (Agape Editions), Tasty Other (winner of the Main Street Rag Poetry Book Award), and six chapbook collections, including How to Play (Louisiana Literature Press) and 28,065 Nights (River Glass Books). Her poem “What to Expect” was featured on the Poetry Unbound podcast, and her poems have appeared in HAD, Poet Lore, SWWIM, Stirring, Thimble, Verse Daily, and many other venues. Katie is the founder and editor-in-chief of Whale Road Review and a professor of writing at Point Loma Nazarene University.
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