A Reoccurring Nightmare In Maximum Security
By Randall Horton

it begins where moonlight ends
slipping through the horizontal
window, wraps each iron bar

of the prison you have become
a longer extension of the cell
in which all humans are born,

come into screaming. scream
& the high shrill falsetto,
voice you never ever want

echoes, ripples, bangs against
your anvil. awakened night-
mares turn mute, the jangling

keys, the slow drag boot heel,
the black scuff marks. you can’t
see yet the guard & the guard

will not see juvenile johnny
sprawled over the bottom bunk
like an elegant woman he is not.

stop. but no one will. stop
receding scenarios dubbed
over & over & over & over.

The Power Of A Literary Novel
By Randall Horton

in the abandon building on the second floor
on top of an antique dresser a book’s spine

open to the scene in beloved where sethe
lawd she done killed her baby. right now

the book will need to begin again the narrative.
nobody wakes up or sleeps here, like what

changed the course of a family evicted
thrown onto sidewalk pavement. not permitted

to catch western civilization’s callous spirit
a girl’s throat displays a purple necklace

of perforated skin. all alone upright she sits
in the abandoned building on the second floor

her lips still want to know why. in the closet
a body decays simultaneously with summer.

she dead too like sethe her mother could not
stand to watch tragedy so she slit her voice.

the prescription unaffordable the pain intense,
an orange-red robin outside on a tree branch

looking inside the windowsill will never know
dearly beloved or the dead baby rotting silently.

Randall Horton is the author of The Definition of Place and the Lingua Franca of Ninth Street, both from Main Street Rag. Randall is the recipient of the Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Award, the Bea Gonzalez Poetry Award and most recently a National Endowment of the Arts Fellowship in Literature. His creative and critical work has most recently appeared in Callaloo, Crab Orchard Review and The Packingtown Review. Randall is a Cave Canem Fellow, a member of the Affrilachian Poets and a member of The Symphony: The House that Etheridge Built. He has a MFA in Poetry from Chicago State University and a PhD in Creative Writing from SUNY Albany. Randall is Assistant Professor of English at the University of New Haven.