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allegiance
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The full-length debut from francine j. harris, allegiance is about Detroit, sort of. Although many of the poems are inspired by and dwell in the spaces of the city, this collection does not revel in any of the cliché cultural tropes normally associated with Detroit. Instead, these poems artfully explore life in a city where order coexists with chaos and much is lost in social and physical breakdown. Narrative poems on the hazards, betrayals, and annoyances of city life mix with impressionistic poems that evoke the natural world, as harris grapples with issues of beauty and horror, loyalty and individuality, and memory and loss on Detroit’s complicated canvas. In twelve sections, harris introduces readers to loungers and bystanders, prisoners’ wives, poets pictured on book jackets, Caravaggio’s Jesus, and city priests. She leads readers past the lone house on the block that cannot be walked down, through layers of discarded objects in the high school yard, and into various classrooms, bars, and living rooms. Shorter poems highlight the persistence of nature—in water, weeds, orchids, begonias, insects, pigeons, and pheasants. Some poems convey a sense of the underbelly, desire, and disgust while others treat issues of religion, both in institutional settings and personal prayers. In her honest but unsentimental voice, harris layers personal history and rich details to explore how our surroundings shape our selves and what allegiance we owe them when they have turn almost everything to ashes. Throughout allegiance, harris presents herself as an extraordinarily perceptive poet with a compelling and original voice. Poetry lovers will appreciate this exciting debut collection.

Table of Contents

  1. Cover
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  1. Series Page
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  1. Title Page
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  1. Copyright
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  1. Dedication
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  1. Contents
  2. pp. ix-xi
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  1. jumping in
  2. pp. 1-7
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  1. sift
  2. pp. 3-5
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  1. costume jewelry
  2. p. 6
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  1. i live in detroit
  2. pp. 7-18
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  1. when it’s time to move
  2. p. 9
  1. what you’d find buried in the dirt under charles f. kettering sr. high school
  2. pp. 11-13
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  1. footing, off guard
  2. pp. 14-15
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  1. flashes—cyan / magenta / yellow
  2. pp. 16-18
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  1. build us a jesus
  2. pp. 19-31
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  1. would like to first thank god
  2. pp. 21-22
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  1. another finger for the wound
  2. pp. 23-25
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  1. the splashing of the bush
  2. pp. 26-31
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  1. lost pen
  2. pp. 33-44
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  1. confessional poetry
  2. p. 35
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  1. somewhere outside acme, i believe in castles.
  2. p. 36
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  1. choosing poets, out of town, like choosing a date
  2. pp. 37-39
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  1. there is always someone. that’s the problem.
  2. pp. 40-41
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  1. why i haven’t written
  2. pp. 42-43
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  1. i used to write
  2. p. 44
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  1. wear metal
  2. pp. 45-53
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  1. intention
  2. p. 47
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  1. (i belong to that voice. it owns what i breathe.)
  2. pp. 48-49
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  1. fume
  2. pp. 50-51
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  1. you, old meany
  2. pp. 52-53
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  1. three feet of personal space
  2. pp. 55-60
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  1. one’s nature
  2. p. 57
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  1. to the man on the bus
  2. pp. 58-59
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  1. you can’t remove the city
  2. p. 60
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  1. crooked teeth
  2. pp. 61-65
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  1. senses
  2. p. 63
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  1. what teeth poems ain’t
  2. p. 64
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  1. documents
  2. p. 65
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  1. never had to use a gun
  2. pp. 67-75
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  1. neighbor
  2. p. 69
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  1. from the bottom
  2. pp. 70-71
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  1. the road to jackson has orchids
  2. pp. 72-73
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  1. rub against it, where
  2. pp. 74-75
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  1. sit with you all night
  2. pp. 77-89
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  1. midday nap
  2. p. 79
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  1. feeder
  2. pp. 80-81
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  1. until it comes
  2. pp. 82-83
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  1. something in the water
  2. p. 84
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  1. parturient
  2. pp. 85-86
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  1. they seem to gather in one park
  2. pp. 87-88
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  1. between old trees
  2. p. 89
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  1. addicted to addict
  2. pp. 91-101
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  1. dickhole and denise
  2. pp. 93-94
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  1. message from wolfgang my mother left on the refrigerator
  2. pp. 95-96
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  1. not now
  2. pp. 97-98
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  1. eight days until your ashes turn one
  2. p. 99
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  1. roommates
  2. pp. 100-101
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  1. in case there’s trouble
  2. pp. 103-110
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  1. blues for a mania
  2. p. 105
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  1. red is the mess
  2. pp. 106-107
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  1. katherine with the lazy eye. short. and not a good poet.
  2. pp. 108-110
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  1. i swear
  2. pp. 111-114
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  1. allegiance
  2. pp. 113-114
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  1. Acknowledgments
  2. p. 115
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