Issue > Poetry
Lee Briccetti

Lee Briccetti

Lee Briccetti is the longtime director of Poets House, a 70,000-volume poetry library and meeting place for poets and readers in New York City. Her second book of poetry, Blue Guide, will be published by Four Way Books in early 2018.     

Blue Guide, Rome, Aventine

Littered with candy wrappers
& citrus rind, streets
dug to antiquities,
time has an odor

of cat piss. Myself:
arch. Arches
hold things up. Dames of Malta
(they exist) lean

toward the famous keyhole
that frames the Holy See.
They also came to see themselves
in full display:

another evening in eternity
darkens with starlings, church visitors
talk about what they ate, walk arm-in-arm,
some in mink.

Day is a blue bottle,
transparent but closed.
O, say the Romans, Our city is
built on broken glass, let it break.

When I bend to the keyhole
I want nearness, place
of visitation, body released—
something like sex, like

a look into you
looking into me.


                       Ospedale Forlanini, Rome

Love and Think deserve form, not count the ways
but extemporized prosody in the Recovery
Room with broken linoleum as he floats
above himself on a gurney screaming
he doesn't know me, when the feel of myself
in my meat pushes so far in extremity
to survive I recite like to the lark at break
of day
until relief he lives.
                                                  The orderly
in Intensive Care's ammonia fumes brings
a plastic beach chair—deep night logic.
Sun—faithful I belong to—rises
blood-orange revealing which Roman hill
Ambulance reasoned us to.

Box Houses

            New York/ Rome (Alan)


Weekends only—loading dock
near the disgraced IMF leader's Tribeca townhouse
becomes the floor of a cardboard house

the cardboard-builder on Franklin Street sleeps-in
Sundays covered by a dirty sheet


Soft graphite on translucent vellum—
shiny pencil-dark—

cardboard constructions he sketches under bridges—
New York & Rome—

also a structure
that will collapse


Domes of open black umbrellas shelter
box houses in weeds

on the Clivio path behind Santa Sabina's cathedral dome,
the Medieval wall & braced steepness—

as we pass two men wrapped in plastic tarps nod politely
stirring pasta into a huge boiling-pot—    

pushed to live in weather
ingenious    (facility)


Alan quips that gorillas & chimps in captivity also paint
given the chance

but the chance is captivity
so when we laugh, we totalize

our kinship—
habitats destroyed

darling human opposable thumbs
in their fleshy nests as we cook

in our smell of coupledom—
    just a millimeter of facial shift

causes alarm—
     fragile    (sheltering)


After they drill through his skull
(the nurse says drill) he is alive—

his face muscles work!
but within hours he is furious with loss

& sends me away. Summer
I.C.U. scream

that's when he sketched his first cardboard
Box House ripped open


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