Last Seen by Jacqueline Jones LamonLast Seen by Jacqueline Jones Lamon

Last Seen

byJacqueline Jones Lamon

Paperback | March 10, 2011

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Inspired by actual case histories of long-term missing African American children, this provocative and heartrending collection of poems evokes the experience of what it means to be among the missing in contemporary America. This thought-provoking collection of persona poems looks at absence from the standpoint of the witnesses surrounding the void and offers an intimate depiction of those impossible moments of aftermath lived by those who remain accounted for and present. While enabling us to question our own sense of identity, this unique collection of poems reveals the blurred edges of separation between them and us and the impact that the missing have upon our present and future.

Finalist, NAACP Image Awards

Jacqueline Jones LaMon is associate professor of English and director of the MFA program in creative writing at Adelphi University. She is author of the poetry collection Gravity, U.S.A. and the novel In the Arms of One Who Loves Me. Her poems have appeared in such journals as the Bellevue Literary Review, Crab Orchard Review, Mythium,...
Title:Last SeenFormat:PaperbackDimensions:80 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.3 inPublished:March 10, 2011Publisher:University of Wisconsin PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0299282945

ISBN - 13:9780299282943

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Read from the Book

Their name for you tastes bitter and uncooked.

Do not listen when they say you were adopted.
Hear your given, gnaw upon this gristle.
You are someone’s missing boy.
Your father named you
—excerpt from “How the Bryant Boy Will Know”
© The Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System. All rights reserved.

Table of Contents


Polygraph: The Control Questions

    Who are you and whom do you love?        

    Where did you come from / how did you arrive?        

    How will you begin?        

    How will you live now?        

    What is the shape of your body?        

    Who is responsible for the suffering of your mother?        

The Elsewhere Chronicles


    Mrs. Minor Gives Directions to Strangers        

    Two Waffles and a Tall Glass of Milk         

    The Clairvoyant Channels Clea Hall        

    Florida Keys Unidentified        

    Ten Items or Less        

    The Age-Progression Artist Pencils Thicker Lashes        

    A Suspect Mother Answers during Polygraph        

    "Let Me Run Upstairs and Get My Purse . . ."        

    Back Roads        

    How the Bryant Boy Will Know        

    The Facial Reconstructionist Has Cocktails with the Girls        


    Loony Toons        

    Last Seen        

    The Network News Director Addresses His Process of Selection        

    For My Husband: Who Took Our Daughter to the Park So I Could Get Some Rest, Then Fell Asleep and Awakened to an Empty Stroller        

Boy Met Girl

    At the Carnival, Near Prospect Park        

    Through a Mutual Friend        

    At Lance and Carol's Wedding        

    In July, at Nathan's Clam Bar        

    On the Tennis Courts        

    At B. Altman's Department Store        

    On the Subway        

    At Rockaway Beach, in Late June        

    At Claire's Father's Funeral        

The San Francisco Sonnets

    The Taker Returns from a Ten-Minute Break        

    San Francisco Bridge Suicide Jumper Considers Relativity        

    The Missing Girl's Sister        

    Prom King Goes Stag His Senior Year        

    The Junior Detective's Wife Speaks Out on the Day of Their Divorce        

    The Missing Girl's Mother        

    Priest Refuses Comment on Accident Driver's Acquittal        

    Olympic Hopeful Assesses Her Victory        

    The Missing Girl's Cousin        

    The Present Song of Seagulls on the San Francisco Bay        

    The Missing Girl's Boyfriend        

    The Teacher Prepares the Crisis Counseling Team        

    Couple Tours Alcatraz on Their Silver Anniversary        

    The Missing Girl's Father        

Polygraph: The Guilty Knowledge Test

    . . .        

    What do you remember about the earth?        

    What are the consequences of silence?        

    Tell me what you know about dismemberment        

    Describe a morning you woke without fear    

    And what would you say if you could?        

    How will you / have you prepare(d) for your death?    


Editorial Reviews

“The most disturbing poetics of loss is often the most valuable, beautiful, and lethal. Jacqueline Jones LaMon’s Last Seen, winner of the 2011 Felix Pollak Prize in Poetry, is a deeply crafted sequence of poems about long-missing African American children in the US. LaMon is a master of the persona poem, where the voices of children, parents, abductors, and friends interact as each tale is revealed. Most poems are built in one single, long stanza, which adds to the tension and drama described. The result is a work in which multiple worlds of love and yearning become one large canvas of intimate humanity.”—The Bloomsbury Review