Okla Elliott

Okla Elliott is an assistant professor at Misericordia University. He holds a PhD in comparative literature from the University of Illinois, an MFA in creative writing from Ohio State University, and a certificate in legal studies from Purdue University. His work has appeared in Cincinnati Review, Harvard Review, Indiana Review, The Literary Review, New Ohio Review, Prairie Schooner, A Public Space, Subtropics, and elsewhere, as well as being included as a “notable essay” in Best American Essays 2015. His books include From the Crooked Timber (short fiction), The Cartographer’s Ink (poetry), The Doors You Mark Are Your Own (a novel), Blackbirds in September: Selected Shorter Poems of Jürgen Becker (translation), and Pope Francis: The Essential Guide (nonfiction, forthcoming).



The Granite Family


With impossible slowness, day by day, in the heatless sun

of autumn, the members petrify. It is unknown


whether there was ever true love here. I want

to believe there was. There is, without a doubt, true hate.


This is no tragic tale; it happens every day,


is an everyday occurrence everywhere on this green

and rocky Earth.


Their blood flows like a stone now.


We walk among them, weaving between their unmoving

limbs, outstretched in silent pleas to shatter


their frozen logic, to unlock their unbending attitudes.





This morning a small child

of indeterminate sex

signaled to me with tiny hands:

Come and see!

ppppppppppppppI walked languidly

along the cracked red-brick alleyway

to where the child stood.

Tiny hands held a tiny chalkboard

on which the Greek word τραῦμα

was written. Trauma.

pppppppppppppppppppThe child spit

on the green slate

and smeared it illegible with the loose sleeve

of a tattered shirt.


When I returned home later that evening,

the corpse of a dirty pigeon

lay on the steps of my apartment building

like a broken angel,

like the corpse of a dirty pigeon.


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