Lisa Ciccarello


you built a paradise
in the ocean at night

a new beginning
another wife
the stone building

still they move against you
the gloved hand
slow chip at the base of the pedestal

the smoke
down on the ground
not a push but a twist

and in the day not a death but a lesson
a dinner in the field of paintings
we call this
sharing your gift with others
it sounds sincere

another wife another dinner
why do they say
buried in the sands of time
when they can’t get off the island

a room full of instruments
is a room full of weapons

you are losing your style
another wife another outfit
not a scarf but a macramé necklace
no home
but an accent to go with this ring

when I put out my hands I mean I drink
I stopped drinking
when I drink I shake when I stop I shake when I try to play
they shake

the phone is like a radio
you can only hear in one direction
it’s a command but he’s begging
a tide turning for all

a man says reputation
when the wife sneaks away

she loves him
this paradise
the dress and ring

she loves him
but not his age or his son
this island or the guests
what was said at dinner
or the stone building
behind a black door

she loves him but she looks down when she’s asked

another night another match
a stroll around the terrace
another wife another drink
another accident

they come fully dressed onto the beach
shawl scarf cardigan at the shoulders
yelling in the sea spray
a man down in the surf

you made a paradise
in paradise
but all I see is the dry path
the long pool in the dark yard

how dangerous
when everyone knows your pattern

I play when no one is looking
my hands clench when I see a woman
fingers in the rubble
say what you want but he didn’t ask me

whoever hunts with this bow
leaves the axe in place

another night another wife
sentimental they say
and my hands work

it wasn’t my hands
it was the look in her eyes
wasn’t I her
when I had looked that way

another glove
the same patience
a man with so many habits
where did he get the money

even if he were another man
same scream on the same shore
arrow covered in sand

I should be with him in place of his wife

a shawl a necklace a basket of flowers
another night with the dead

they discover the son has been missing
since he left the beach
another man another
expert with this weapon

they discover
a boat could moor unseen on the island
then they discover a boat

another night with a murderer
a wife in a peasant’s dress
they switch their accents around

they go out together in the dark
their failed attempt in their hands
why fight unless there’s an audience

black door on a stone shed
another night another fire
another layer of clothing
how does a stone building burn

someone came up behind you
and grabbed you
and behind you
I grabbed you
is that so unusual

a scarf another scarf another scarf
why should I change what I do

we both know
what we both know
it is wrong to make him exciting again
by taking him out of the world

let me say it to your face
he was so old
couldn’t you wait
to get gracefully off the island

I didn’t get to say goodbye
is my goodbye

Lisa Ciccarello’s debut book of poems, AT NIGHT, comes out this year with Black Ocean. She loves writing chapbooks & her most recent one, “Chief!” was published by InkPress. She asks poets questions about revision for draft: The Journal of Process.