Imagining Will Burns

Will Burns, a tall skinny white boy who dipped in, and dipped out of our MFA program between our year one and year two. Will Burns of the perfect bedhead, Will Burns of the grey smoke, Will Burns of the vacant stare, the smirk. I haven’t told anyone, but after he left one summer night between first and second year of grad school, I kept seeing Will around town. And even after I left Spokane, moved to Arizona, and eventually to North Carolina, I kept seeing Will.


  • In Roseaurs, the Spokane grocery store, from behind, heading down the cold pop/warm pop/chip aisle. I called his name, and the man who turned around happened to be a Will, too, but he was not Will Burns.
  • Riding a bike down Spokane Falls Blvd in the middle-to-left lane with no regard for drivers in cars behind him losing their shit, flipping him the bird, and riding his bumper. As I drove by I saw it was not Will Burns, but instead a woman, and she was smiling.
  • In the reflection of glass in the lobby of our Riverpoint campus building. I kept looking, and looking. He had on a sweater, he was there, but I knew when I turned around he would be gone.
  • Standing at the top of the Big Red Wagon in the middle of Riverside Park surrounded by children.
  • As I was leaving the Phoenix municipal courthouse, he was across the road looking west up Washington street. How did he find me? Did he know what I’d done?
  • Coming down the trail in running shorts, scrawny legs eating up the distance between us. The sun was at his back, and I turned to TJ to say, “Look, it’s Will.”
  • Sitting at a table in the Wendy’s in a small town outside Oklahoma City.  I was driving round the side to the drive through, the first meal I’d be eating all day, but I kept going round and then out. I could not eat there.
  • Gazing into the driver’s side of my car where it was parked in my mother’s driveway. He must have felt my stare, because he turned to look up at me. I moved away from the window.


  • Cathie Smathie says:

    This is delightful.
    I once tried to write a poem about seeing phantom versions of the same person all over the place. It wasn’t as successful as this.
    Will Burns where are you!?

    • Monet says:

      You said delightful and I immediately thought of Tyler. I only actually had one phantom vision of Will, but then my mind ran with the idea. Will Burns — where are you??

  • Sam Ligon Sam Ligon says:

    Great post. Feels like a sketch for a cool list poem that wants to keep going. If I were looking for a door to walk through here, it might be in the line “Did he know what I’d done?” Lots of great stuff here. I’d love to see this as a poem.

  • Laura Citino Laura C. says:

    This is lovely. I really like how you leave unexplained the turn from Will Burns biking becoming a smiling woman. That’s a potent moment for me here.

    • Monet says:

      Thank you! I’m taking Sam’s advice and making it into a poem, and I need a few different entry points. I’ll try this one.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *