fiction, poetry & more

First Prize
$1,000 Award


by Carolanne Conerly Griffin

A sweltering Saturday in July,
and there’s a block party—I’m nine, watching
mothers dancing and smiling for a change—
homemade dresses swirling ’round their knees;
Smokey and Marvin and Martha Reeves
on somebody’s portable record player;
barefoot kids on the curb drinking lemonade,
eating Polish sausages and hot dogs and ribs,

and then the funny man comes, the funny man comes,
and he’s swishing and laughing, his black skin glistening,
he’s joking with the kids and singing off-key, and he
may have been what our mamas called “funny”
with his boyfriends and fried hair and too much jewelry
and he lived in that sweet little house on the corner
with flowers too pretty for a man to be growing
but we kids didn’t care—he made a mean chocolate cake
and served it up with such a flash of bright white teeth
and fake diamond rings, the street just seemed to glow—
he helped make that whole day taste so good,
the rest of the year was easier to swallow.

And all of the experts called our neighborhood poor.
And all of the preachers called the funny man vile.


Carolanne Conerly Griffin, artist, writer and poet, was born in Gary, Indiana and graduated from the University of Louisville. She has published fiction and poetry in LEO (Louisville Eccentric Observer), The American Voice, Heartland Review, and River City Review, among others. She is an Army veteran and mother of two sons, and currently lives in Louisville, Kentucky.

March 2020