Throwback for the New Decade: Georgia

Prism Art Journal Winter 2010

James Martinelli

The poem ‘Georgia,’ written by James Martinelli, was published in the winter 2010 edition of Prism Art and Literary Journal. To herald in 2020, here is the piece from the beginning of the decade.


Cement steps unhinged from their door

And the house visible on the horizon.

Laid there by twisting fingers,

Sometimes one, as many as three.

Air-raid sirens, muffled

By a freight train noise.

Steer clear of the window’s rattle.


Teacher laughed at the signs of the cross

That I made by dipping my hand in the fountain.

To a boy, statutes can piss holy water;

Birds bless themselves too.


A lake. A neighbor with a canoe.

He said there was a whale

but at age six I knew when a man had lied.

I was half liar myself, from my father’s side.


Chasing the blonde girl, and pushing her

gently on the tree strung swing.

I was handsome then. We held hands

Until she’d climb and I’d watch worriedly.


My mess broke mama’s ankle as she stepped–

Forgiving me, before it even happened.

She’s gone now, but mom is her daughter.

Same smile. Same sweetness.


Creek crossing lead to debris field

Where sister stepped full-weight on that rusted nail.

I was good at secrets, but red shoes tattled.

Along with the blooded tub.


Memories or dreams;

The same realism as in books.

Like my father is fiction,

Raising his hand against my mother,

Knowing I saw from the long hallway.

No wonder he missed my birthday–

He was good at that. Still is–17 years strong.

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