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Selected Poems

Writing by Cristina Rizzo. Artwork by Paola Valentina.

Santo Stefano in August

Ma quanti bagni hai fatto?


The boy’s happy –

a casual joy.

His feet sound splattered on the sand.

Ha perso un dente!

The wind’s picked up now.

Before the heat was a chokehold,

a lover on my arms.

And I think about lovers and teeth:

the poking edge of a baby tooth,

its milky emptiness,

the gum when the tooth is gone,

the gum all soft and curved.

And I remember these things like I remember

when tongues touched teeth

and fought and sucked and played –

hungry children on rocks.

When his shirt was open and I touched dry skin.

When he touched mine and it was wet.

When teeth gave way to tongues

and I tugged at your hair, interested.

You held me close, eyes closed, panting.

Saturday Night

There's something about washing plates

With honeysuckle FAIRY

After having Emma over

And making green curry with her.

And talking about rape

And talking about the girl she knows

And Catherine

And her friend, Lily.

There's something about stacking the dishwasher

With grease hands

And feeling like your mother.

And knowing you're seeing Tom tomorrow

And you're going to fall asleep next to the same skin for a

Long time.

And knowing you're going to get up in eight hours.

And opening the fridge to see the avocado, cold on the bottom shelf

And knowing you have something for breakfast.

And lying on the sofa feeling full.

And thinking of what she would say about that cheesecake slice.

There's something

About my hands sticky with soap while typing this

But I'm too tired to think of it now.

When you first stayed over

I wake up to your pores

My lips stick white to my teeth

I close my mouth shut

So you can't smell it.

My shirt's too big for me

It's off my shoulder

and makes me feel all naked.

My left eye waters onto your pillow.

I'm sorry,

I wipe it off, hoping it's not mascara,

Hoping it's not last night on white.

I'm dry and wet and open

All in front of you.

And you lie, eyes closed,

Your mouth open like a baby.

Your eyebrows curled like you're confused

About me.

And then your shirt hangs at your neck

And sweat runs to the unpatterned hair on your chest.

And the blanket off your hip,

Your arm left soft on top of it

So it looks like butcher's meat.

Your pores, again,

Except, now, they're bigger.

Your hair,

Hangs in chunks and strands,

Awkward like a cartoon.

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