by Lucia LoTempio

The mouth opens like it’s just blunt entry.

“I want to have sex with what I want to become,” says the poet.

I think I should feel very broken down, very rotten. But I am open like the hull of a ship with stairs ascending. When I see a grease fire, it’s a trash fire, it’s a car engine fire, it’s on the belly of a great lake.

I’m always looking for solution, but an equation would be too elegant. Siri says, “Thank you for your feedback” when you call her naughty girl. I know I shouldn’t be filling any cup to splash. When I say grease fire, I mean nothing else. I mean grease fire.

I tell my lover to throw me onto the bed and he refuses. What happens when you are hot with the bad things?

When I was younger, I felt a tenderness that was uninterrupted. Now when I feel it coming on, I think I know where it started.

When I open I need to know to who. Or, when my mouth opens, it’s full of fire and still so hungry.


A little moss on the wall      How do I tell him      Every time
a man touches it’s better with the promise of worse      I love
a man       How do I tell him      My mother says I don’t
seem happy at all      He forgets
to lock the door at night      How do I tell him       A sweet mass
of something big that presses      Life is amazing! I say
when a friend asks      How do I
tell him      I’m kneeling
on a chair, wobble and sweat      Life is
amazing! I repeat louder      then louder       then louder
then louder       And believe it


Still, I bring a strange hand to my lip and say this.

I tell my friends we are so quick to forget pleasure, and then we bring up poems we hate. Hate is a kind of pleasure.

When people post the man and his large knife they mention, this is how many hills it took to the unlocked backdoor. There is exquisite joy in climbing a hill. What can be blotted out? A man? A name? A life? I’m trying and nothing seems to be working. Is anything lost in memoriam with a tweet? Is connection a kind of joy? I am tired and still watching.

I want her alive; point to her, be able to see this. I want to find a younger me, tell her this. I want to write a poem that says this.

Another shared article, collaged photographs that don’t match: her, her lover, her, the murderer, the house. The house, grass peeked through snow, red garland forgotten, two people bundled; from the side they look so close together, legs in sync, like this one a woman and the other a shadow.

Lucia LoTempio is the author of Hot with the Bad Things (Alice James Books 2020). You can find her work in The Journal, TYPO, Sixth Finch, Quarterly West, as part of the Academy of American Poets poem-a-day series, and elsewhere. Co-authored with Suzannah Russ Spaar, her chapbook Undone in Scarlet is forthcoming from Tammy Press. Originally from Buffalo, Lucia lives in Pittsburgh where she works at the nonprofit City of Asylum.