The most serene back seat is the starlit one, on the way to the police station, knowing you’re going to prison. The provincial officer handed me over to the city officer at the county line, preserving the integrity of the chain of custody. For a moment I hung suspended between two links in the parking lot of a zoo famous for its geriatric care. When the jay comes for me, I will have been singing its song many times over, on repeat, a brokenhearted record. In second grade, I wandered into a yearbook and learned that I was already tired of seeing my name in print. I autographed all the girls’ faces. I was the boy most likely to write a poem. Boy most likely to die young.
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ALEX TRETBAR won the 2022 PEN America Prison Writing Contest in Poetry and was a finalist for the 2021 PEN/Edward Bunker Prize in Fiction. His manuscript Kansas City Gothic was selected as a finalist for the 2023 Wolfson Press Poetry Chapbook Competition, and his work has appeared in or is forthcoming from Colorado Review, Meridian, SAND, Poetry Northwest, Iterant, Bat City Review, Southeast Review, Full Stop, and elsewhere. As a Writers for Readers Fellow with the Kansas City Public Library, he teaches writing classes to the community and assists with the Maya Angelou Book Award. He is an MFA candidate at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.