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MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
Issue 23: 28 April 2024
Poem: 194 words
By George Franklin

In a Florida Prison

He’s taped the painting up above his bunk: 
Simberg’s The Wounded Angel, bandaged, sitting 
On a stretcher carried by two boys, kids 
From the street, maybe hired to carry it. 
In the background, the lake, a sky in early spring, 
Snowdrops blooming sparse and pale. The angel 
Holds a handful and carries them loosely. 
Did one of the boys give them to her? Maybe. 
He can’t make up his mind. One boy, in black, 
Is a miniature adult. He does what he’s told. 
The other wears a jacket that doesn’t fit and 
Carries an angry squint. He’s seen men look 
Like that before. It’s usually just before they 
Start a fight or tell a CO to fuck himself. 
That look means stay away. The angel’s wing 
Has blood on it, probably broken, not going 
Anywhere. The hem of the white robe trails 
In the dirt. From his bunk, he stares at the painting, 
Sky, water, the boys’ hands gripping the poles 
Of the stretcher. He remembers an owl 
That used to perch on the fence at night, 
Claws wrapped tight around coils of wire, 
Wings stretched wide before it flew. 



The Wounded Angel: 1903 painting by Hugo Simberg
The Wounded Angel (oil on canvas, 1903)
by Finnish Symbolist painter Hugo Simberg (1873-1917)


Painting is held by the Finnish National Gallery. Image above was downloaded from Wikimedia Commons on 9 April 2024.

George Franklin’s
Issue 23 (April 2024)

most recent poetry collections are Remote Cities (Sheila-Na-Gig Editions, 2023), and a collaboration with Colombian poet Ximena Gómez, Conversaciones sobre agua/Conversations About Water (Katakana Editores, 2023). He and Ximena Gómez also co-translated her book Último día/Last Day.

Franklin’s poems appear in Another Chicago Magazine, Cultural Daily, The Decadent Review, The Lake, MacQueen’s Quinterly, New York Quarterly, Rattle, and Solstice. In 2023, he was the first prize winner of the W. B. Yeats Poetry Prize. He practices law in Miami and teaches writing workshops in Florida prisons.

Author’s website: https://gsfranklin.com/

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