The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Not Flowers by Noreen Ocampo

This selection, chosen by guest editor Katie Manning, is from 
Not Flowers by Noreen Ocampo, released by Variant Lit in 2022.

litmus test

Would you buy flowers
for yourself? Can you

tell me all the people who would?
The people who have?

Are you looking forward to what comes next?
Can you visualize

yourself there? Where are you
standing? How

are your knees? How does it feel to dial
your memorized numbers?

What do you say
when they pick up?

Do you trust your luck? If I tell you
luck was never a part of it,

what then? Are you
translating people’s faces with kindness?

How afraid are you of their teeth?
How afraid are you of yours?

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 PoetrySundog 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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