Poesia inedita, Read in english

Four poems by Peter Covino


Dressed (iPhone Text and Image)

In richly hand-embroidered gray lace,

like the women in storefront dress shops

used to make in vacation villages near

the Amalfi Coast. The stitch and colors

less delicate, garishly saturated, coarser

fabric, tending toward silver-blue; layered

uneven skirt, ample in the midsection,

undulant, just below the knee. Low-collared

to show off ample cleavage, but pinned

modestly in cheap costume jewelry; deflated

balloon of her no longer retaining water,

in an S-shaped interwoven necklace, whose

bulbous knob, seemed a votive figure’s attenuated

head. Luminescent rosary beads, with metal bobs,

and plastic cross. No mention of earrings though

she loved them. Open-toed black slingback

sandals, medium heeled for uncramped feet,

as Schubert’s “Ave-Maria” funnels through Muzak

speakers on Zoom, at my mother’s funeral

that I missed because of travel restrictions.

Her last rites in garbled but passable Italian.

Plant the Trumpet Flowers

Plant the trumpet flowers

With their lush fire and red blooms

Next to the shed and hydrangea tree.

But resist the biblical narrative

Of Revelation’s seven trumpets

Of blood, woe, and bitterness.

Give me Settebello instead.

Express from Naples to Milan.

The slow jazz of luxury trains

To distant cousins.

Golden seven of Italian card games

Scopa—scope and sweep

Of Sunday’s idle, beneath

The luxuriant mimosa’s

Mini parachutes that litter

The makeshift putting gravel

Driveway our uncle laid down

With leftover catrame—

How do you say in English

Tar, pitch? Go on, your turn

Pray the flowers improve

Property value, outlive

Us, specially this bright July,

A gift to generations.

Mountain Village, Ravaged House

Intervals of no electricity

Or running water

Disappeared into the (w)hole

Box of a past death’s

Nonexistent refrigerator

Immigration’s corrective of

Mold-less, acidic sauce.

Each lengthened muscle

And mulish gait

At this distance

A razor-wire gnaw of compression

Hose. Lurid burlesque.

Striptease’s unbearable

Boa constrictor

After surgery’s inexorable

Aching limp.

Ground down joints

Of history’s incalculable

Reticence and

Unwieldy hips.


Just about every actor on Pose

strikes me as amazingly gifted and brave

yet sometimes anachronistic: 2020

insights on a show set thirty years ago.

I want to be as brave and as intimate

when my chiropractor asks why I missed

months of appointments. Because my

gay homosexual lover of many years

is an essential worker, a self-sacrificing

public health physician who believes

it’s inevitable a lot more people

will get Covid. More will die.

Do you really want my privileged ass

to tell you the whole truth?

My back aches. My hands are raw

from trying to scrub away the fear.

Biographical Notes:

After a long career as a professional social worker in foster care and AIDS services in NYC, poet-editor-translator Peter Covino is an associate professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of Rhode Island. He is the author of the poetry collections: Cut Off the Ears of Winter (2005), The Right Place to Jump (2012), the chapbook Straight Boyfriend (2001), and the coedited Essays in Italian American Literature (Bordighera/CUNY, 2012). His prizes include a FY2019 NEA Fellowship in Translation, one from the Richmond American International University of London; and the PEN American/ Osterweil Award. His poems are widely published in American and Italy and have in appeared in such journals as the Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a day, American Poetry Review, Atelier, Cincinnati Review, Colorado Review, Community RAI Italian Television, Gulf Coast, Seneca Review, Western Humanities Review, and the Yale Review. Since 1998, he has been one of the founding editors-trustees of Barrow Street Press, which in addition to a biannual journal, under my direction has published more than fifty-five poetry titles.

Francesca Borrione is Assistant Professor, General Faculty of Media Studies at the University of Virginia. She holds a PhD in English from the University of Rhode Island and a doctorate in Education from the University of Perugia. Her research focuses on the persistence of gender and ethnic stereotypes in American and Italian true crime literature and film. Her essays and translations appeared in journals such as, Italian American Review, Atelier, and Ovunque Siamo, and in the edited collections, The Cinema of Ettore Scola (Wayne State University Press) and Contemporary Balkan Cinema (Edinburgh University Press). Her latest essay, “Reframing Il Mostro in Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders: American Killers, Italian Monsters, and the Transnational Imagination” is forthcoming in Clues. A Journal of Detection.

On the cover: illustration by Barbara di Bernardo

You can read the poems in italian by clicking here

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