M.J. Iuppa

If, Only

In sixth grade, L’s science fair experiment was to chew chunks of gum
until the flavor went flat. She grinned wickedly, a fat wad of Bubblicious
stuck in her cheek. No one could tell her to spit it out; she’d sit, leaning
back on her lab stool, blowing bubbles to Whitney Houston’s “I Will
Always Love You.” Tipping over got her into trouble with everyone; but
not for long, she grew up quick. She worked cashier at Safeway, and still
chewing gum, she fell in love, head over heels in the freezer aisle between
family-size bags of carrots and peas.

Silent Movie

In front of the firehouse, next to the 9/11 memorial, a man
and a woman of equal girth and stature, stand two feet apart,
texting madly on their cell phones. They look up and stare
hard into each other’s olive pit eyes. With furrowed brows
and pursed lips, they look back at their screens. All thumbs
they argue, like this, inching closer and closer, until they
bump bellies like holiday inflatables, wheeling in the
wind, without a single sound, they scream at each other,
rocking back and forth, until they spin around, heading
in a huff towards the pizza shop.

Summer Night

As humid weather settles in, I recall stolen hours, walking along
split city sidewalks, slipping under sycamores’ leafy shadows
to listen to his piano play a lonesome phrase in the upstairs studio
of his Arts & Craft house. We paused there— breathless in the easy
progression of lilting notes— enchanted & strangely lifted up to
the lip of the open window where we lingered for a while without
being noticed. When he stood abruptly to switch off the Tiffany
lamp, we were left in the dark to follow the blink of fireflies
that were— like his melody— everywhere at once.

M.J. Iuppa's fourth poetry collection is This Thirst (Kelsay Books, 2017).For the past 30 years, she has lived on a small farm near the shores of Lake Ontario. Check out her blog: mjiuppa.blogspot.com for her musings on writing, sustainability & life’s stew.

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