by Paolo Bicchieri
at some rodeo
you kissed my neck in front of my grandparents / it wasn’t that you couldn’t / everyone laughed / it was that five miles away / someone wept when they heard the crack / the bulls and the clowns were raging / a bottle of lightning on its side / while the pipes bickered apart a noise / a clanging furnace cleaved into an ant hill / you sucked on my little boy neck to show you could / and it taught me a lesson / about how you could do anything you wanted / and it placed the universe in your eyes / so when I’d look at you from then on / I’d see the cosmos in your laugh / and you’d see your son / in an overturned barrel / with white and red makeup / running
when men tell me
they’re romantics I feel an ashtray gorge in my heart and an ape fall on my back
when they say romance is for nice guys I puke until my fingers rot and until my throat corrodes
as they show me how it was her fault I look at doors and I watch for ground molars
before my father tells me again the rose on his shoulder is for the drop of blood brought by the thorn I beg the beast to get off my body to let it all exhaust
from my backyard
playing in the sprinkler
dancing in the shade
he hopes to watch
in my front yard
playing in the idea
these children might be humans
in my dusty rooms
playing with the corded phone
calling the police
a blue dot
doesn’t mean shit
in that red Toyota out front
playing through the idea
those children will never be safe
“what kind of son did I raise?” mom, summer 2013
Three Questions for Paolo
What is the significance of this work to you?
Man, this is tougher to write than the poem! I learned the full extent of abuse I received as a child this last December. It was terrible to hear, especially while visiting family over the holiday, and I spent a lot of time writing to process. These poems are products of that revelation and time, of being a kid in danger and of being an adult and looking at that experience with new eyes.
What is the significance of the form you chose for this work?
While I enjoy articles and stories, these experiences became poems as the medium allows me to express the dissonance graphically. I think I turn to poetry because I am more aptly able to capture the complication of forgiving and loving someone for harm in the past who has made it much harder to forgive and love myself every day since. It's all about connecting to myself, a community and readers, and my higher power. Poetry lets me do that better than other forms.
What was the process for creating this work?
I wish I had a more arcane and specific writing process, but it's really off the cuff for me. I learn something or see something then get the nearest writing tool and get it out. With poems I want to publish I ask my partner and trusted beta readers to give them a look, then send them out. I added a photo and quote that I thought worked well as inroads for the work, making a better multimedia experience for my childhood and the abuse that took our family to task.
Paolo 'Lanegan' Bicchieri is a poet, novelist, and journalist who organizes at 826 Valencia. His work has been published by Nomadic Press, Quiet Lightning, Resource Publishing, Standart Magazine, and the Sunset Beacon. He enjoys hiking and calling his family on Sundays. He can be found at www.paolobicchieri.com and most social media sites at @paoloshmaolo.