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WINNER - - Where by Jessica Manack

Spring 2022 Poetry Contest

There, in the library. Free to the people. In the field outside the chapel. In the chapel. At the pulpit, whatever they call it. These places other people built for other people: we made them ours. Outside the cemetery, where no one complained. Outside the stable, where no one was disgusted. On the city bus, anonymous. In the parts of my body I had just learned to cover up. There, hungover, over eggs. Our houses might as well have been façades. We broke out at dusk, broke into song on the sidewalk. No, we’re all out of snacks! No, you can’t use the bathroom! I was named after an actress. You were named after a flower. And there, in the underpass that’s always flooded, we joined our puzzle-piece teeth. We ignored the graffiti. There, on the Greyhound bus, I braved New England to find you. In the listening room, you played me Phil Ochs for the first time, dropped the needle like a professional. There, but for fortune. The death heavy in his voice. We chose life over and over. We chose to sink into each other.


Jessica Manack holds degrees from Hollins University and lives with her family in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Her writing has recently appeared in Maudlin House, San Pedro River Review and The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. She is a recipient of a 2022 Curious Creators Grant.


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