In the blue bathroom, my mother’s hidden Kotex.
My pajama crotch smeared with first blurred fire.

Hard to describe the side yard: dog chain,
verbena, teens bristling in collars of restless fire.

Slow dancing with vertigo in my home-made gown.
I catch the room careening through satin skull-fire.

Grey-tone, the old Polaroid. My father’s car keys: sweaty.
My big-girl mouth blotted with Ring of Fire.

Late radio singing “Sunday Morning Coming Down.”
If women are guitars, here’s a strummed, plucked fire.

Dead, the boy whose fingers slaked my breasts.
You’d recognize the name: smudge of swallowed fire.


Gianna Russo

GIANNA RUSSO is the author of a Moonflower (2011, Kitsune Books), winner of the Florida Book Award Bronze Medal and the Florida Publishers Association Silver Award. A Pushcart Prize nominee, she has had publications in Tampa Review, Ekphrasis, Crab Orchard Review, Florida Review, Florida Humanities Council Forum, Karamu, The Bloomsbury Review, The Sun, Poet Lore, The MacGuffin, and Calyx, among others. She is the founding editor of the poetry chapbook publisher YellowJacket Press ( She holds an MFA in Poetry from The University of Tampa. She is Assistant Professor of English and Creative Writing at Saint Leo University. Her newest collection, Florida Avenue Torch Song, is in circulation.

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