The Things I Want to BelieveI want to believe that drunk men go to the bowery and bathe in puddles that they drown in their own vomit I want to believe that my father spent his childhood tied to a swing set or that my mother was forced to eat dinner in a dark coat closet I want to believe these things because I need an excuse for the time I robbed my parents I need an excuse for the time I broke into their house crawled across the living room floor I got distracted by the white fuzz on the carpet I thought it was crack and ate it I disappeared that night with my mother’s jewelry and my father’s wallet I need to believe that someone else has experienced what it’s like to starve I need to know that drug addicts and drunks don’t die alone on their parents’ floor in the middle of the night What Stands Behind Me Now What stands behind me now in line at the grocery store is not just another person but an old man waiting to pay for his prunes. I notice the long wispy hair in his nose and ears and lose my appetite. Behind me is another constipated life an attempt at freedom and maybe an old neighbor I don’t recognize. I didn’t know all my neighbors on Massachusetts Ave. because no one mowed their lawns or trimmed their bushes. They were afraid to come outside. When I was five on Massachusetts Ave. a man drove across the neighbor’s lawn it was a reckless get away. I saw his face in the rearview mirror a split second his hairy nose was frightening it was like a monster crawling out of his head. The black hairs like a thousand spider legs took over his face Behind me now are monsters that look like innocent old men standing in line. I want to empty my grocery bag and put it over their heads to suffocate the memory of Massachusetts Ave. where all the houses appear empty all except an unmade bed or a refrigerator turned upside down as if someone broke in and searched for an answer or a piece of jewelry or a child in a yellow sweater waiting for her mother to come home. This is what bloomed in winter: children sprout from yellowed linoleum floors on Massachusetts Ave.
Emptying Out the HouseThe only thing we found under her bed was a note taped to the bed frame that said who should inherit the mattress and in the top drawer of the dresser there was another note that had your name on it the lamp she tried to send you home with every time we visited had a note on it too there was a list of names on the liquor bottles under the kitchen sink we never heard her mention Bobby, Lou Anne, Madeline and there were picture frames with price tags on them in her closet the receipt was in her wallet the least we can do is return them to put something back where it came from
About the poet:
Nicole Santalucia is currently working toward her Ph.D. in English with a concentration in poetry at Binghamton University and she is the Poetry Editor of Harpur Palate. She received her M.F.A. from The New School University in 2008. Her work has appeared in Pax Americana, and the Paterson Literary Review. She has also been featured on The Best American Poetry Blog in 2011-12.