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Poetry by Megan Chiusaroli
my bottle of narrative
If we spend a lot of time out in the icy blue,
our pen doesn’t return home
the finality of words
is our permanence upon the page
the fear, the uncertainty,
my bottle of narrative.
Can a word just be a word?
I like the idea of breaking down
a system of deconstruction
to inherit nothing but my body.
The world is constantly moving
as though movement were exceptional
I’ll drive up 3rd Avenue
and invent pretty stories of direction
self-correct mistakes but it would be much better
to catch them the first time.
The spaces we choose to inhabit
open and close like a latch,
like a window,
like a deep exhale
and north is just abstraction,
here is the only real direction
Carnival and the absurdity of language
It’s the middle of carnival, and the streets are lined with coriandoli. (Italian for confetti)
Those shiny, colorful squares and triangles, that catch the light, fly and drift and nestle into every crack
and crevice of street, of fabric, of car upholstery as we drive up through the mountains. Three-
year-old Alessandra hugs her plastic bucket full. Coriandoli! she shouts with glee, pronounces
the word with precision, and all the while I’m thinking of squirrels. Scoiattoli in Italian.
Meanwhile, in Italian, the word confetti refers to a wedding favor with Jordan almonds meant to
augur a life filled with more sweetness than bitterness. Five almonds for five wishes: health,
wealth, happiness, fertility and longevity. Sugar-coated, like a masquerade. Like these little bits
of magic flying through the air, or a squirrel’s leap from tree to tree. Or a question without an
answer. But why but why? Ferdinando insists. Why “Welcome” and “You’re welcome?” Why are
you welcome and to what? Children come to the school dressed as Minnie Mouse, as a
snowflake. Sara is a pineapple with a yellow t-shirt and a green paper stem on her head. I eat a
fried donut and go to the gym. Que la vida es una carnival, I wave my hands in Zumba class and
sing along my joyful answer, hopeful wish, squirreled away for the years to come, a lightness in
the air on my walk home, a shine of gold on cobblestone.
stuck inside a memory, trying
to recreate a good year, when
our sights came across each other,
and there was a different sky
when my feet were crossed in
between yours. A wine game,
poppies for our hair, paella in the rain,
and yoga in the courtyard in May.
Sunsets in Spain: our yesterdays
in constant motion. Now:
I carry these expectations
around in my bag all day,
heavy with vegetables
uphill on my bicycle,
on my hands and knees,
searching for a new independence.
The future is written on your left hand,
the past is on your right, and
there’s a dense fog advisory all morning.
My eyes are like boiled eggs, and
even the birds hum along:
obsessive compulsive self-aware
Don't feel bad. Just feel better!
Whatever you can to keep busy, don’t sit
once a tree always a tree.
I’m from the moon. You’re from back,
in this town in the valley,
this fog that covers everything.
Fleeting signs of life
I just want to sit up here, high above the town
among the dried pomegranates.
I want to feel far away
from the city arch
the green hillside close to home
roofs like cannelloni
the voices of the people I sort of know
in the bars I sort of frequent
the awkward encounters
overpriced herbal tea
and manual transmission cars.
My supermarket lunch awaits me in a plastic grocery bag
on this weathered wooden bench
where markers mark young musings
(Kisses. You have a stupendous ass. You will always be my forever)
in this city of lovers
specified meals at specified times.
Placemats mark the places of the living in the bar, but
photos of the dead surround.
They smile down from their obituaries
in color photos
beside the posters for
I’m looking for things to do,
ways to pass my days,
and I see their post mortal grins
and flushed cheeks.
I see their faces }
reflected in the faces of the living.
Only tourists walk the streets right now,
in sandals and athletic shoes.
They’ll find the shops are closed,
the streets deserted.
They’ll find it all enchanting.
I’ll go to my driving lesson,
and later to the park.
The children will climb the fragile trees and
kick the ball in my direction. Grandparents
will unsuccessfully try to reign them in
those wild lives so easily excited.
I’ll lay on my checkered scarf, the one
I cover myself with in corpse pose and
stare up at the sky. The trees are green already,
but maybe there are a few left,
my blossom babies,
Fleeting signs of life.
Megan Chiusaroli is an English language teacher and poet from New York. Her work has appeared in Rockvale Review, After Happy Hour Review, I want you to see this before I leave, and Aphros. She currently lives in Northern Italy with her husband, whom she met while hiking the Camino de Santiago in Spain, and is heading to Turkey for a teaching fellowship in the fall.