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'This Thing Called Life'

Poetry Inspired by the
Music and Spirit of Prince

Prince Rogers Nelson


Ethan Joella

About the Poet

Ethan Joella teaches English and psychology at University of Delaware. 

He is the editor-at-large at Referential as well as a 2008 Eric Hoffer finalist (that story appears in Best New Writing 2008) and a 2010 Robert Olen Butler Award finalist.  

Additionally, his work has appeared in The International Fiction Review, The MacGuffin, Rattle, Berkeley Fiction Review, Cicada, The American, and The Collagist.

His chapbook Where Dads Go won second honorable mention in Finishing Line Press's Open Chapbook Competition. 


Spring 2017 »

by Ethan Joella

I was six when my brother put Little Red Corvette
on his USA-themed record player, placed the needle
on the groove of the 45, and he let me stand
on his side of the room where I never stood, where
you could see the gleaming floor boards
and he had no stuffed Garfield or Snoopy like I did,
his bed with the carved pineapples and simple blanket,
his hand grips and barbells on the floor,
and the drums started, and the song galloped

past our bathrobes hanging from the coat rack, past
the curtains with trains, and my brother stood next
to me, and Prince’s words seeped into our skin—we didn’t know
what horses run free meant or anything about the jockeys that were there
before me
, we didn’t know
this man with the velvet voice, but we wanted the road,
we wanted fast music and a car
that could take us away, we wanted gas, wanted
to last, that song, that song, my brother
who left
years later and didn’t take me,
I can’t hear Prince without seeing him
in our green bedroom that day
how we watched
the vinyl spin, and my brother’s hand
tapped against his leg and my feet wiggled in socks, two boys
shoulder to shoulder
almost dancing
until the record slowed and stopped.




Ethan Joella ~




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