M.J. Iuppa

Arrangement in Black & White, with Red Lights

Her curly-haired, hypoallergenic Pooshih lies close
on the couch, curled up like a snail shell, snoring a
storm of z’s without a twitch of his button nose. She
taps his back lightly, and he stops— mutters like her
husband. She goes back to watching her classic film
with the sound on mute— her hand lost in his soft
black curls. Just her and her sweet pup and Christmas
lights blinking on the hall tree. She thinks about all the
things she’s left undone; saving a little something for
her to post on Instagram, just to say how harried she is.


From time to time, when you’re doing something else, you
think about him— your dead father. You think mostly good
thoughts as you lift paperclips off a miniature magnetic rocker
with the tip of your pencil. Neat. The clips hook into a chain.
Still connected to the hurt, the chain collapses on your desk in
a pile of acute angles. You were good at geometry— the logic
of shapes. What would happen if you pulled one clip out?
What if you unfolded the clip itself? What harm? How it looks
like an outline of his body lying on your desk?


She. Some nights, the conversation collapses under
the weight of the last word waiting to be spoken. She.
Thinks he’s selfish, not willing to face her & say what
he means, which is meaningless, like a passage she read
in The Prophet. She. Sees the stars studded night sky &
weeps at the thought of constellations disintegrating. He.
Knows how to hedge his bets. She. Chases particles of
dust, wanting to be swept away by eternity. And so.
They tread slowly within each other’s silence, waiting
for stranger things to happen. Like small talk — like
this— no-no, more like this.

Foreheads, Pressing

against each other, we were in a deep sleep, in the middle of
the afternoon, in the middle of a river, in a green canoe that
nosed its direction by the current beneath us. We were some-
how skimming along, then picking up speed when we rounded
the bend, sliding under an old willow’s overhang to a sudden
drop into water rushing over terraced rocks— foam churning
over the bow’s dip and lift and pitch out of control. We were
lost in that moment, in that dream where we couldn’t save
each other. We woke with a start— eye to eye— afraid to say
what we both saw was our future.

M.J. Iuppa is the Director of the Visual and Performing Arts Minor Program and Lecturer in Creative Writing at St. John Fisher College; and since 2000 to present, is a part time lecturer in Creative Writing at The College at Brockport. Since 1986, she has been a teaching artist, working with students, K-12, in Rochester, NY, and surrounding area. Most recently, she was awarded the New York State Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Adjunct Teaching, 2017. She has four full length poetry collections, This Thirst (Kelsay Books, 2017), Small Worlds Floating (2016) as well as Within Reach (2010) both from Cherry Grove Collections; Night Traveler (Foothills Publishing, 2003); and 5 chapbooks. She lives on a small farm in Hamlin NY.
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