V  P  R

Contemporary Poetry and Poetics





1977, Queens.  My Uncle Peter squeezes
lighter fluid on the charcoal

to cook a leg of lamb.  The radio crackles
with the play by play voices of Bob Murphy and Lindsey Nelson,
the neighborhood Greek Chorus.
My cousin Paul tapes one of my sister's Barbie dolls
to the torso of a Roman candle.
Everyone else gathers around the card table
as my father tells the story about the time he was
stuck in an elevator with Joe Namath.
All of the women sigh, except for my Aunt Gina,
who taps Paul on the shoulder and says, Give me the doll,
the way a cop asks for your license and registration.
At midnight I will wake up in my aunt and uncle's bedroom
to the sounds of gunshots and breaking glass
in the gray streets, the sharp aroma of onions
mingling with cigar smoke.

© Joey Nicoletti


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