Three Poems: ‘Charleena Chavon Lyles’, ‘Spotted Owl’, ‘Economics’

  • Jen Vernon


This collection of poems is based in working-class life through an intersectional lens on the west coast of the US. It includes a documentary poem to a young Black woman, Charleena Chavon Lyles, who has been elegized by the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement in Seattle. It draws on news articles and an obituary to support its truth claims and aims to counter the official police report and support the global, working class, BLM movement. ‘Spotted Owl’ is a poem that talks back to the opposition between loggers and the forest, in part from the point of view of an old growth tree. It highlights the intimate relationship between trees and owls and between blue- collar workers who directly work with natural resources and the environment. ‘Economics’ is about work beyond capitalism, through a focus on the relationship between bees and a chaste tree and the Irish word for labor, saothar. In sum, these poems address the lived experience of class through the author’s vantage at this place and time, from the US west coast.