Francine J. Harris


francine j. harris is originally from Detroit, Michigan, where she grew up in one of many neighborhoods operating in economic limbo in the aftermath of the motor industry collapse. After high school, harris moved to Arizona and attended several community colleges part-time before earning scholarship to attend Arizona State University, where she earned a BA in English. harris spent the next several years working with grassroots organizing projects for community radio, social justice, and queer performing arts, while facilitating poetry workshops for young people and practicing visual art. harris moved back to Detroit in 2002. In 2011, she earned an MFA in Poetry from University of Michigan, where she was awarded a Zell Fellowship. harris is the author of Here Is the Sweet Hand (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2020), play dead (2016), and allegiance (2012), a finalist for both the Kate Tufts Discovery Award and the PEN Open Book Award. Her poetry has appeared in many journals, including McSweeney’s, Ploughshares, Poetry, Meridian, Indiana Review, Callaloo, and Boston Review. A 2008 Cave Canem fellow, she has also won the 2014 Boston Review Annual Poetry Contest and was awarded a 2015 NEA fellowship. harris was writer in residence at Washington University in St. Louis and taught creative writing at University of Michigan and Centre College in Danville, Kentucky. She is currently associate professor of English at the University of Houston. Source

Single Lines Looking Forward. or One Monostich Past 45

The joke is orange. which has never been funny.


For awhile I didn’t sleep on my bright side.


Many airplanes make it through sky.


The joke is present. dented and devil.


For awhile, yellow spots on the wall.


Obama on water skis, the hair in his armpits, free.


I thought the CIA was operative. 


Across the alley, a woman named Mildred.


Above the clouds in a plane, a waistline of sliced white.


I don’t sound like TED Talk, or smart prose on Facebook.


These clouds are not God. 


I keep thinking about Coltrane; how little he talked. 


This is so little; I give so little.


Sometimes when I say something to white people, they say “I’m sorry?”


During Vietnam, Bob Kaufman stopped talking. 


The CIA was very good at killing Panthers. 


Mildred in a housecoat, calling across the fence, over her yard.


If I were grading this, I’d be muttering curses.


The joke is a color. a color for prison.


Is it me, or is the sentence, as structure, arrogant?


All snow, in here, this writing, departure.


All miles are valuable. all extension. all stretch.


I savor the air with both fingers, and tongue.


Mildred asks about the beats coming from my car.


I forgot to bring the poem comparing you to a garden.


Someone tell me what to say to my senators.


No one smokes here; in the rain, I duck away and smell piss.


I thought the CIA was. the constitution.


I feel like he left us, for water skis, for kitesurfing. 


The sun will not always be so gracious.


From the garden poem, one line stands out.


Frank Ocean’s “Nights” is a study in the monostich.


Pace is not breathing, on and off. off.


Mildred never heard of Jneiro Jarel.


I’m afraid one day I’ll find myself remembering this air.


The last time I saw my mother, she begged for fried chicken. 


My father still sitting there upright, a little high.  


Melissa McCarthy could get it.


Sometimes, I forget how to touch.


In a parking garage, I wait for the toothache.


I watch what I say all the time now.


She said she loved my touch, she used the word love.


In 1984, I’d never been in the sky.


My mother walked a laundry cart a mile a day for groceries.


Betsy DeVos is confirmed. with a broken tie.


Mildred’s five goes way up, and my five reaches.





Literary Movements:


Anthology Years:




Literary Devices:


an expression designed to call something to mind without mentioning it explicitly; an indirect or passing reference


a figure of speech in which words repeat at the beginning of successive clauses, phrases, or sentences


a comparison between two unlike things using the words “like” or “as”