fiction, poetry & more

Honorable Mention
$25 Award


by Brennan DeFrisco

In California, we can grow just about anything
Exotic fruit in tropical varietals
Avocados and mangos and Asian pears
Our soil is a symphony for nature’s taste buds
A place where vines wrap around sunsets until they’re older than their owner

In California, we grow grapes
We make award-winning wine and drink it often
We provide 90% of the country’s supply of vine fruit
2 to 3 billion dollars a year
A toast to your health
Red wine can help clear out your heart, lower your chance for cancer
A glass a day may extend your life up to five years
or be the reason you never make it home
Grapes are the number one cash crop we grow . . .

In California, we grow weed
We roll award-winning blunts and smoke them often
We provide 79% of the country’s demand for cannabis
15 billion dollars a year (that the government knows about)
Medical benefits include over 200 conditions that respond favorably to THC
Like arthritis, Alzheimer’s and PTSD
Like cancer and chemo and 2 years left
if you’re lucky
The quality of life has no time for propaganda
A gram a day is safer than any prescribed medication
The patients have spoken
Let there be smoke

In California, we grow prisons
In the 1980s, we planted these seeds
You may know them as the War on Drugs,
the Prison Guards Union,
Ronald Reagan,
disproportionate rates of incarceration
and good, old-fashioned racism
We watered them with mandatory minimums and millions of dollars
Now the harvest is endless
Concrete blooms from loose soil as inevitable as ivy
Cell blocks pop up like weeds
There is no society in history
that has imprisoned as many of its own citizens as we
There is no industry guaranteed to provide a higher profit on investment than privately-owned prisons

So, in California,
the most valuable thing we grow
is our own children


Brennan DeFrisco is an MFA candidate in poetry at Antioch University Los Angeles. He was a National Poetry Slam Finalist in 2015, his team placing third in the country. He is co-founder of Lucky Bastard Press, where he co-edits with his muse, Allie Marini. He is a teaching artist with California Poets In The Schools and Digital Storytellers, facilitating poetry workshops for students across the Bay Area. He’s the author of A Heart With No Scars (Nomadic Press) and co-author of Exquisite Duet (Hermeneutic Chaos Press), a collaboration with Allie Marini. His work can be found or is forthcoming in Words Dance, jmww journal, Yellow Chair Review and others. He occupies Oakland, CA with a particularly beautiful, talented woman.

May 2016