It’s a Wonderful Life Brandon

by Sergio Ortiz
The Waters
Second Place, March 2017
Judged by Sara Clancy


It’s a Wonderful Life Brandon
Larry Fobes King “Leticia”
January 13, 1993 – February 13, 2008

What’s up, baby?
It was the step that haunted,
the cold predatory act, the final step,
shards of the glass.

I filled the rooms of this school
with the scent of ghosts,
built the classroom out of Leticia’s sighs,
colored the halls with Larry’s anguish.

In school I wore a uniform
made from screams, like a window
between the cracks of air, or a leak
on its way down the steps of obsession.

“Baby,” the blaze of going to bits,
of keeping guilt and loss at bay,
of two shots in the back of Leticia’s head
the only solution.

The prosecuting attorney
walked through una hojarasca
on the way to her table. Her hair
full of dead, wet leaves. Hallway clatter
declared her ten pounds’ thinner.
The jury, untangling Brandon
and Leticia’s What’s up, baby?
The defense begged jurors leave
their conscience in the hallway,
and it worked.


Difficult to write a poem about a subject like this and not scream at the reader. Difficult to read a poem like this and not just scream. Lines like “I filled the rooms of this school/with the scent of ghosts” and “The prosecuting attorney /walked through una hojarasca/on the way to her table. Her hair/full of dead, wet leaves.” will haunt me. Disturbing, sad and superbly written. --Sara Clancy

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