Journalism in Verse – EST. 2016


Upon an Oakland Fire

in Ghost Ship/Obituaries by

The facts
I can handle the facts
With my friends’ faces on the news I know:

There were makeshift stairs
of wooden pallets, the same kind people use for bonfires,
no clear exit path, labyrinthine,
and my friends danced for the Minotaur
something beautiful and deadly,
pianos and mannequins, rugs, and no smoke detectors,
art from around the world and no sprinklers.

The labyrinth was designed by those who flew too close to the sun
with feathers and wax, taking risks everyone warned them not to take.
The landlord ignored electrical problems for years.
The body of a man, the head of a bull,
designed to kill without cunning
in a Ghost Ship in Oakland, California.

So now I don’t read the news so much as it reads me.
It grinds ink onto my eyelids for painful visions.
In the blank spaces lie the memories of my friends,
talented and kind and bright
taken by a mere element
still with their music in my ears.


RIP Denalda, Ben, Ara and all those lost.

The child of a journalist, J Spagnolo knew they would be a writer at a young age. Jenna regularly reads their poetry in the San Francisco Bay Area and is one-half of the brains behind Poets Reading the News. Jenna is skilled at connecting people, activating collaboration and strength in others, and works as a professional communicator, journalist, and digital marketer for nonprofits.

Original art kindly contributed by Alex Palomino.

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