10 Portraits of Colonel Sanders (Kentucky)


Portrait I

My uncle with mechanic’s hands

on my knee, say,

“Brown sugar, where’s yo’ Momma?”


Portrait II

Has a kiss soft like an old blush,

has a kiss like cloudy moonshine,

in the back of his new silverado.


Portrait III

Wonder if Momma ever thought

of Daddy like this, well Daddy, just

about as red and raw.


Portrait IV

Laugh’s like he is coughing up

feathers. Scheming. Mandolin and

tatters. White on white on black tie-



Portrait V

It is five o’clock Mr. Sanders,

Is my grandma in the back?

Is she done yet?


Portrait VI

This commercial is racist

nostalgia, like

John Wayne


Portrait VII

One little…two little…

three little…fill in the blank with

blanks, you know the rest


Portrait VIII

Maybe Mr. Sanders is an

Alexander Dumas case and the

chicken is his way of coming home


Portrait IX

My father’s father is asking me

if I speak that stuff Haitians speak,

I say, “Yes.” He says, “I still love you.”


Portrait X

He says he’s back – sings it but,

Isn’t that a bit morbid? The man’s dead.

You can’t stop Massa from beating a dead horse.





Jessica Lanay currently lives in Bronx, NY and works at a magazine for writers in Manhattan. She moved to the city from Macon, Georgia and was raised in different places throughout the South. Themes that trickle through her poetry and short stories are female protagonists, internal migrations, the investigation of violence, disappearance (of landscape or persons), and magic realism. Her poetry and short fiction can be found in Blackberry: a magazine, Linden Avene Literary Journal, and Duende. Jessica Lanay also has more work forthcoming in Kweli Journal, Sugar House Review, Minerva Rising and As/Us. She is the founder of Jasper Collective, an editorial group comprised of women.









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