Chapter 16
A Community of Tennessee Writers, Readers & Passersby


James E Cherry is the author of six books. His latest novel, Edge of the Wind, was published in 2016. His 2008 poetry collection, Honoring the Ancestors, was nominated for an NAACP Image Award. Still a Man and Other Stories, a Lillian Smith Book Award nominee and a finalist for the Next Generation Indie Book Award for Fiction, will be re-released by Willow Books in July 2020. Cherry has an M.F.A. in creative writing from the University of Texas at El Paso and resides in Jackson, Tennessee, with his wife, Tammy.


At the airport, I’m pulled
from a queue of passengers boarding flight 819
from Detroit to Memphis, non-stop.

I’ve been randomly selected
to assume the position,
patted under arms, poked around testicles

by a male TSA security agent,
while his female counterpart
ransacks my book bag. She contemplates

copies of Kunitz and Komunyakaa,
Hemphill and Hemingway, frowns
upon a tattered notebook

of my own poems that pulsate
the right margin of the page. I’m cleared
for boarding, as I check over my shoulder,

pull my ball cap low and don
a cheap pair of sunglasses
to hide my intentions

of storming the cockpit, shouting:
Dostoevsky, Dostoevsky!

[This poem originally appeared on November 21, 2013.]