Gordon Smedt © 2019

Gordon Smedt © 2019


         by Jennifer Martelli

I hear about couples in america while stuck on the Massachusetts


A poet and their partner restore medieval liturgical robes.

Some vestments are embroidered with Bible stories: snakes, floods, the holy rood.

Some so old they crumble with the weight and oily poison of fingers.

Some nest and feed small white worms: the robes, big mothers lactating spit.

Stoles, copes, chimeres, tippets: purple loden green and gold silk, wine-stained.

The air is velvet pomegranate at dusk, but by moonrise, ripe plum.

Every car in front of me is turning a slow creak double-lane left.

Every tail light in front of me looks like two red lollipops, melted.

A man deep in America and his bride shoot at doomed fireflies

flashing for sexual partners on the last warm night of their bright lives.

The couple under the American sky doesn’t know what glows and glows.

Every car in front of me rides with their brake lights on: someone might cross.

Nothing flies well in this wet night heat: not moths, not fat gold June bugs, not

bullets, not owls, not souls. When someone dies tonight, they’ll have to wait.

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Jennifer Martelli’s collection, My Tarantella (Bordighera Press), was named a 2019 “Must Read” by the Massachusetts Center for the Book. Her chapbook, After Bird, won Grey Book Press’s Open Reading. She received the Massachusetts Cultural Council Grant in Poetry and is co-poetry editor for Mom Egg Review.