READ A POEM
by Darlene Montonaro
A city shapes you.
The way rain speaks
to the buildings on Euclid Avenue,
slide of snow into the Cuyahoga.
Clatter of wood escalators
as you lean under the awning
of stairs, the taste of Frosties
on your tongue, between basement sales racks
Families shape you.
The mother you had
or didn’t, the stepmother who erases
your past like a nun’s blackboard.
The father, too busy, sweaty bottles
of Black Label in the basement,
the Cleveland Press held like a wall
between you. Or your sister
reflected in the tri-fold vanity,
a parade of bottles gleaming
in the glass, the smell
of Evening in Paris dark blue
Lovers shape you.
The one who stands behind,
his face buried in the smell
of your hair, a slow dance
with his mouth so close
to your ear, his words
spilling down a page set against
the blue of truth.
Endings shape you.
beneath the Plymouth
as your father pulls away, the metallic
skid of carnations as they hit
the coffin lid, the spray
of change and mints
your lover emptied from his pockets
that you leave like an altar
across your dresser long after
you realize he is never
“Inscription,” by Darlene Montonaro. © Darlene Montonaro, 2016. Used by permission of the author.
ABOUT TODAY’S POET
Darlene Montonaro is a poet whose work has appeared in a wide variety of literary magazines including Calyx, Slipstream, Visions International, Earth’s Daughters, Blueline, Poetry Motel, The Comstock Review, Abraxas, and Buddhist Poetry Review. Four of her poems were also anthologized in the book Illness and Grace: Terror & Transformation, published by Wising Up Press, 2007. She is a founding member of the poetry group Take Nine, and serves on the Board of Literary Cleveland, a new organization working to serve and promote area writers. In 2016, she was awarded a Creative Workforce Fellowship from the Community Partnership for Arts and Culture.
WRITE A POEM
Cities, Families, Lovers and Endings shape us, says Montonaro. Write a four-stanza poem using her stanza form or one you invent that examines how four of these shape us: Bodies of Water, Teachers, Enemies, Animals, Diseases, and/or Beginnings.