The day breaks like a glacier.
My mind is an aria of fever, in red air ablaze,
a clammy crescendo, as I talk on the phone
with friends and colleagues
during a meeting where I am supposed to be
attending in person. But I am too sick
to be around people. I cough. My thoughts sink
like rocks in a lake
as everyone speaks. I look
on my laptop screen: my friend Alan, eyebrows
and tuxedo on fleek, posing with Tony Lo Bianco, star
of stage and screen, for a picture taken
by his spouse, freshly posted
on Facebook and The Gram.
My soul is a waterfall, cascading
as I take another pill; as I sip another cup
of Chamomile tea, my joints aching,
I say goodbye and hang up. I thank
the man upstairs for my spouse’s chicken soup; I think
of how Washington DC would be
a closed amusement park to me
if I was there like I planned; asking Tony what it was like
to have worked with Gene Hackman, who is
sometimes Popeye Doyle to me, other times Lex Luthor,
as well as Roy Scheider, both of whom were
in The French Connection with him. But I think
of Roy as Chief Brody in Jaws, ever since
since I was 10 years old, when I saw
French Connection and Jaws on TV, Cable
for the first time. Roy died
in 2008. The way I feel today
makes me think of my own death: would any
of the people I spoke with earlier
go to my wake or funeral
if I die before them? How long
will I suffer? Will I be alone?
Will I be in my own bed? Or in a hospital room,
like all of the women, natives and immigrants alike
in my family thus far? A hospice? A different country?
I am home. I have not left it
in a week, but it feels as if I have returned
from my nation’s capital.
I am not afraid exactly, but I have more
questions and concerns,
all of which will be answered in time;
all of which will be addressed in time;
like snow later on tonight; the weatherman
with the dashing moustache on TV, remarking
about a couple bundled up in Cobalt
blue jackets, their laughter sprays in water
onto a rusted hand rail, my head on fire.
Source: Leveler, issue 15, Summer 2016
Joey Nicoletti’s first book, Cannoli Gangster, was a finalist for the 2009 Steel Toe Books Poetry Prize. His other books include Boombox Serenade, Thundersnow, Reverse Graffiti, and Fan Mail, which was published by Broadstone Books in 2021. Nicoletti currently teaches at SUNY Buffalo State.
Order Fan Mail from https://www.broadstonebooks.