Williams Nordrum, “Schism,” / Kevin Flynn, Two Poems

“Schism,” Williams Nordrum, mixed media, 2022


Kevin Flynn
Stuck in traffic,
waiting for the one 
who meanders the crosswalk 
or blocks the aisle.
As I simmer,
she asks:
‘What if it was someone you love?’

What of that someone
sprawled on the sidewalk
or ranting in the sun,
filthy, baked, 

What if it was someone you love?
Would I carry that same fist 
of tightness, 
body tensed as if to take a blow,
or pass 
with a closed expression?

In the store, the child who steps aside
acknowledging murmured thanks 
with a sweet ‘You’re welcome’
or the cashier whose eyes
and open smile bring warmth 
to soften the chill.

What if it was someone you love?
Then to realize 
that of course
it is.

The St. Charles Line (Jazz-Fest- New Orleans)

Kevin Flynn
Near midnight,
partied out,
we walk St. Charles 
to the streetcar line, 
and sit to wait on marble stairs 
long as a playing field.

Skaters use the bottom steps
for jumps, 
the edges worn round 
from continuous impacts 
of wood and steel 
on stone. 

They call out
     ‘Hey, man… 
      Hey slick, can you move up a couple..?’

The smaller guy, 
cap at an angle, 
has some moves, 
rides the edge of the step 
before twisting down to the concrete  
with a clatter 
or misses, 
and mounts his board 
to push off 
in a careless glide down the sidewalk.
A second, larger version, 
dreads tied back, 
less agile, 
but no less persistent, 
jumps repeatedly, 
smacking his board against the steps, 
only to clatter back 
to the sidewalk at a run.  

Falling once, 
rolls into the impact,
springs to his feet.  
Repeats the process
again and again. 

Finally, picks up his board, 
settles on the steps by his backpack, 
and lights a joint. 
The flare sends a dank plume 
of smoke into the leaden air.   

From a distance,
some older guys watch the skaters. 
One sits shirtless, 
with tattoos that traverse his torso. 
red-faced from sun and alcohol, 
flaccid breasts touch 
the top of his bulging belly. 

He yells out, 
      ‘C’mon, now. 
       Show me somethin’… 
       I know you can do it. 
       C’mon, I know you can..  

       How it feel, 
       hit that hard concrete? 
       That concrete hard, huh?’ 

Dreads hollers back, 
      ‘Ain’t nothing. 
      Just got to know how to fall.’  

      ‘C’mon man, 
       Lemme see can you hit that concrete again.’ 

High above,
a lighted clock,
plastic panels tinted 
to resemble stained glass, 
strikes midnight 
and sends a dirge-y version of 
‘The Saints’ along
the murky night.

in the Vieux Carré
the St. Charles car 
snakes its way forward
through the sodden air. 

Williams x Nordrum is a 28-year-old visual artist and student living in Phoenix, Arizona. In Williams’ early years, he started practicing graffiti in South Phoenix where he was born. This community still heavily influences him today. As he started his higher education, he began to be inspired by life drawing and how he could combine his new interests with his past influences. Williams started creating paintings and participating in exhibitions, which only made him more ambitious. As the size and subject matter of his work got larger and more grand, he adopted a go big or go home outlook. This mindset guides his journey in the arts through Phoenix College on his way to an Associate of Fine Arts.

Kevin Flynn is an adult-learner at Phoenix College. His work experience has been primarily in the fields of behavioral health and health care administration. An avid reader and amateur musician, he’s a lover of many literary genres and has wide-ranging musical tastes, primarily for jazz and American roots-based forms. His first experiences with creative writing and poetry have been through classes at Phoenix College.