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Binghamton, NY 13905
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Nicole Santalucia, Binghamton, NY
Nicole Santalucia is pursuing a PhD in English with a concentration in creative writing at Binghamton University. She serves as the poetry editor of Binghamton University's literary journal, Harpur Palate, and assists the Director of The Binghamton Center for Writers.
Nicole founded The Binghamton Poetry Project in 2011 and continues to work as the project's Director. She received her MFA from The New School University in 2008. Her work has appeared in Pax Americana, Clockhouse Review, Ragazine, Paterson Literary Review, and other journals. She has poems forthcoming in Bayou Magazine, Gertude, and Barley South Review. Nicole received honorable mention awards from Astraea Lesbian Foundation Writers Fund as well as the Allen Ginsberg Award and has been featured on the Best American Poetry Blog.
Bitches on the Roof
I love the bitch, said the guy with no teeth.
Then, he took a swig from his can of beer,
climbed back up the ladder onto the roof,
and started hammering.
You can't live with that bitch anymore,
said the other guy with a bigger tool belt and two teeth.
The bitch won't even cook, said no-teeth man.
I sat quietly on my porch listening to these men bitch
as they fixed the neighbor's house. I secretly wished their
bitch-asses would fall off the roof, and I wanted to tell them
to stop bitching, to take off their bitch costume and strap on
a real cock.
It was late May and the men kept coming to work on the house.
Sometimes they would wake me up. They slurped their beer and bitched about their baby mommas. I started dreaming about tool belts and memorizing their conversations as they hammered each shingle.
Now, it is June and I'm wearing my own tool belt and sitting on the porch.
Every once in a while I look next door as if to agree with the men who re-roofed the house last month
and want to climb on the roof and scream,
I love the bitch.
Ma FiacoSomeday I will learn Italian
so that I can go back to
the basement where you hovered
over the stove and hung the pasta
on clothes lines.
I'll go back and translate our conversations.
I used to think I was a ghost in the room,
transparent, unable to talk.
I could hardly listen, but I wasn't a ghost,
I was nine, maybe ten - and
I must have always been hungry.
The only phrase I could decipher was
Feedagurl or feedaboy.
My brother and I were nameless
and when you spoke to us
your back was always turned.
Sometimes when you went to get
more homemade wine or outside to pick grapes,
I'd sneak a sip of your drink
I'd go back and steal from my own memories.
This wasn't the only thing I stole.
Years later, after you walked
out into the garden and never returned,
when your house was sold and
all the left over pasta tossed in the trash
and wine bottles passed out
at your funeral like wedding favors,
I stole mouthful after mouthful
until my lips were purple.
I drank myself into the future.
I predicted my own death.
Now in this new life
I haven't learned Italian
but I do throw my hands around when I talk.
My mother tells me how much
I remind her of you,
and sometimes I wonder
if it was your breath that I stole, if you are inside me.
Driving Through BinghamtonOn a Saturday morning
I cross a bridge and
wonder about those men
down in the river
waist deep in water.
I wonder if they are related to me.
Maybe one of my grandparents
had an affair.
I also wonder if the house
on Clinton Street,
the one that burned down
because a crack-head fell asleep on her pipe,
I wonder if anything was ever hidden in the walls
other than drugs or lost time.
When I drive through Binghamton
I avoid Carroll Street
because in a previous life
I might have stood on the corner
and sold my body for an embarrassingly low price.
When I drive through town
I look off into the distance
and recall the story about
when my grandfather was sold
to a farm so that his mother
had enough to eat.
Now, I see broken windows and old factories.
I see the places where my life was sewn together,
but I didn't know the clouds would shift,
and I would one day drive through the fog
pulling myself apart at the seams
looking for an old address
to see if anything other than my pants were left behind.