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The Library of Congress > Poetry & Literature > Poet Laureate Projects > Poetry for the Mind's Joy > Winning Poem: Pale Grace and Ashes
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This poem was submitted for the "Poetry for the Mind's Joy" project and is reproduced here with permission from the author. All rights reserved. Poetry for the Mind's Joy is Poet Laureate Kay Ryan's project that includes a community college poetry contest administered by the Community College Humanities Association and a lively videoconference.

I smell broken glass and I can
call your bluff
I know my mom’s smoking grass but
she’s good enough
Long purple shadows cover
everybody’s road
Ghost girls follow my brother
and kiss him in the snow

Choke on tollbooth candy
somewhere beyond the pavement
Following you and me
is the option of enslavement

Sugar burns in your hands
and your life is on a string
We felt summer creeping in
We were young and whispering

As I wiped ashes from your face
I shivered on the floor
I wiped ashes from pale grace
Don’t burn me anymore

St. Charles Community College, Cottleville, MO
Faculty Contact: Teddy Norris, Professor of English