Issue 26 | Fall 2020

Joanie, Lam: Blythewood, SC, 1990

For the inmates of the Broad River Men’s Correctional Facility


I accepted your collect phone calls, thinking 

my parents must know you. I figured if Joanie 

had killed a man with a steak knife in her 

very own kitchen and my parents still hired her, 

they might know all kinds of inmates. 


The way she told it, smoking a Kool cigarette,

clad in acid-wash, hair dyed so black it looked

blue at the roots, she was cutting tomatoes 

when he forced his way in, so she sliced 

a doorframe into him and slipped right through.


When she ran away from the halfway house,

police showed up at our door and demanded 

to know what we knew, which wasn’t much: 

the bottles of sour-mash whiskey they found 

in our cabinets surprised my parents, too.


But boys, men: I thought surely they’d come 

to get the letters I promised when you called 

and asked me to write, lonely like microphone

feedback from each and every one of you.  

I liked the idea that I could make it go away 


with words, but ultimately, they would find 

nothing because I never wrote. You have to 

understand. She was a woman. I knew her crime.

Filed under: Poetry

Katherine Fallon received her MFA from Sarah Lawrence College and is the author of The Toothmakers’ Daughters (Finishing Line Press, 2018). Her chapbook, Demoted Planet, will be published by Headmistress Press in 2021. Her work has appeared in AGNI, Colorado Review, Juked, Meridian, Foundry, and Best New Poets 2019, among others. She teaches at Georgia Southern University, assists in editing Terrible Orange Review, and is a reader for [PANK].