Jeff Santosuosso

★ ★ ★ ★

Poetry

Family Matters

After-school Auntie,
Papa had a stroke,
Mama and everyone else working now.
Little boy, scuffed shoes,
smudged shirt,
just wanting to be un-alone.

Domestic Auntie,
the house is empty
except for her skirt and apron,
her Joan Crawford curls
lilting from the kettle’s steam.
She keeps the house,
cooks dinner
simmering on the burner,
seasoning the downstairs.

Playmate Auntie,
little boy in the back yard
playing fetch with the dog,
trying not to scuff
for Auntie may grab his ear,
give him the substitute look
of Mama’s disappointment
that would break his heart
more than seeing Papa fumbling in his chair.

Little boy licks the gravy spoon,
drinks a glass of milk,
finger-combs his hair,
spit for hold,
stands at the door as Mama walks home,
Sister Auntie just behind,
as he straightens up.

Everyone home for dinner,
a hand-washing brigade,
then seated at table,
grace and a meal,
Papa’s napkin tucked into his collar,
Servant Auntie’s last task
for the evening.

Wife Auntie trudges home,
Uncle sits, awaiting her,
prayers and deep breaths
quiet and twilight,
slumping on the bed
his arm around her
for tomorrow will come tomorrow.

Dedicated to my Great Aunt Grace (Celestino) Caggiano
(1915-2017)

Bakelite Bread Box

Yellow, like an elusive
perfect-packing boxy lemon,
economical transportation,
a dream of the nuclear age.

There was never any bread inside,
just a base with an inner edge
and a fitted lid with a handle,
some blue swirl of a design
on the face,

a swirl like cinnamon
in the raisin bread we finished
before we had to load the leftovers,
an empty bag and a few crumbs.

Something made Dad angry –
an empty bag, ant-attracting
crumbs on the counter,
no toast for breakfast.

His right arm
slashed the air, eliminating
any air holes,
un-leavening the kitchen,
his fist a great kneader,
shattering the Bakelite,
shards of lemon,
the sensation the juice gives your eyes,
the tears of 9 going on 39.

Blood down his forearm
as if he wore his veins on the outside,
red swirls, not blue, colored his flesh.
Paper towels spooling off the spindle
as he clutched the wound,
a broom and dustpan
sweeping up shards
into the trashcan, breadcrumbs
and one dried raisin.

Photo by Ryn Holmes

Jeff Santosuosso is a business consultant and award-winning poet living in Pensacola, FL.  His chap book, “Body of Water,” is forthcoming from Clare Songbirds Publishing House. He is Editor-in-Chief of panoplyzine.com, an online journal of poetry and short prose. Jeff’s work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and has appeared in San Pedro River Review, South Florida Poetry Journal, Mojave Dessert Review, The Lake (UK), Red Fez, First Literary Review-East, Texas Poetry Calendar, Avocet, and other online and print publications.

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