Poems from Colleen Farrelly

City Holler

It’s a warm summer evening. I’ve just finished my post-run two-for-one burrito special from the convenience store below my city apartment. A calculus final hangs like the sword of Damocles over my head, and a stack of unfinished MD/PhD applications perch precariously atop my calculus book, untouched since they arrived. During my freshman year, the assigned advisor told me that I’d make a better prostitute than doctor; kids like me don’t belong in school.

injured duckling

left on the lawn quacking for help—

child of the holler

I flip on the Home Run Derby and flop onto a floor pillow, attempting to replace the running commentary in my head with something else. Anything else. The screen flickers to Josh Hamilton hitting a 500-footer that almost breaks Yankee Stadium’s façade. I know his story well. Addiction. Recovery. Relapse. Recovery. The crowd knows his story, too, and still cheers. I glance back at the stack of applications and pick up a pen.

first purslane of spring

peeking out in holler grass—

acceptance letter


I’m curled up on our dorm pullout—eating a pizza while I review my theology notes—when you burst in with a copy of the Florida docudrama you’ve been wanting to see: Bully. It’s about a kid who’s been physically and sexually abusive to a group of other kids, who eventually hire another teen to kill him. She starts crying first. The murdered bully is awful, but he is a person. The victims sentenced to life in prison are, well, victims and kids. Morality and justice seem more complicated in reality than my notes suggest. We hug each other and cry until dawn, spilling secret scars and knowing we’re not alone. We don’t have to hate the people responsible.

river carving

a beautiful canyon—

healed scars

Dying Young

It’s said that the eyes are the windows to the soul. Hers were bright with life, belying the weary experience of a young litigator working to prosecute a Tamil Tiger for human trafficking and crimes against humanity. In 18 months, she’ll be washed out to sea in the Columbo train bound for the shoreline. But tonight—tonight—we’re in a dive bar eating bad pizza and sharing a pitcher while we argue over FIFA. She’s tiny but feisty. I can’t imagine her losing this case, let alone her life.

the last petal

falls into winter’s first snow—

dying young

About Colleen Farrelly

Colleen M. Farrelly is a freelance writer in Miami, FL, whose works have recently appeared in Frogpond, Anti-Heroin Chic, cattails, Failed Haiku, Wales Haiku Review, and The Recusant, among others.


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