M.J. Iuppa is the Director of the Visual and Performing Arts Minor Program and Lecturer in Creative Writing at St. John Fisher College; and since 2000 to present, is a part time lecturer in Creative Writing at The College at Brockport. Since 1986, she has been a teaching artist, working with students, K-12, in Rochester, NY, and surrounding area. She has three full length poetry collections, most recently Small Worlds Floating (2016) as well as Within Reach (2010) both from Cherry Grove Collections; Night Traveler (Foothills Publishing, 2003); and 5 chapbooks. She lives on a small farm in Hamlin NY.
Waking before any sign of dawn crept over the town’s snowy
rooftops, she felt the tingle of ants marching in her cramped
hands. She steadied herself against the vanity’s basin & stared
at her face floating like a balloon in the mirror. Her breath’s fog
against the glass made her realize she needed to do something.
Close work quieted her mind’s electricity. If she could cut out
patterns of fabric that matched her feelings, she’d let them come
& go in the pulse of needle & thread, quilting what she couldn’t
bear. Beneath her fingertips, she sensed each stitch, undone.
Talking to her isn’t conversation, it’s a monologue.
What is the point? Listen, no one can take that pug
face seriously. What could anyone offer to calm this
battle-axe? A cup of Earl Grey, a nod of confidence
when, in fact, they thinks she’s nothing more than
a caustic blowhard. Who in their right mind would
wrestle her to the ground for her bag of beaded misery?
Yet, there’s one thing that makes her intimidating, and
they all agree, that she knows how to leave red wheals
of punctuation in any argument.
An Essential Still Life
Garbage plate: two grizzly hamburgers smothered in everything— onions,
mustard, ketchup, pickles, and hot sauce; mac salad and cheddar fries
served in a styrofoam container, with plastic spork, and one paper napkin.
A cure for the pain in your head, the on-coming hangover that will make
you regret knowing the names of 100 craft beers. They were impressed
with your ability to swallow pickled eggs whole. They tried to make you
choke. Amateurs, you think. What’s worse? Finding the stain on your
new silk shirt, or stumbling home alone— flushed by winter air—bankrupt
of honor— speed-dialing their numbers?
Far from Perfect
An unexplained bruise blooms on the back of her left
hand: bluegreenyellow. It hurts like a mother, Kit says
on the phone to her best friend who just lost her cat.
Her kind friend barely sniffles for a hand that seems
to be a well-versed weapon— the way Kit reacts with-
out blinking twice. I don’t remember doing it, she blurts.
Relax— it happens, her friend says, looking at the damage
left in her tiny kitchen— empty wine bottles, glasses &
plates, silos of cigarette ash left on the sill. Where to start?
She sorely misses lover-girl, her reliable cat.