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bronzed by sunset motor into port

with full catches,

and how the sun roughened fishermen

hose down their decks,

watching not to slip on grime.


                 from Adirondack Chairs by Domenic Scopa







Adirondack Chairs


Walk-In Closet

Overgrown Hedges

Secret Cemetery

Little Lake Sunapee

Mornings Calm







1 – BIOGRAPHY:  Domenic Scopa


 Domenic Scopa is the 2014 recipient of the Robert K. Johnson Poetry Prize and Garvin Tate Merit Scholarship. He is a student of Vermont College of Fine Arts, where he studies Poetry and Translation. He has worked closely with a number of accomplished poets including National Book Award Winner David Ferry and Washington Book Prize recipient Fred Marchant. His poetry has been featured in Misfit Magazine, Poetry Pacific, Untitled with Passengers, Gravel, Crack the Spine, Stone Highway Review, Apeiron Review, Diverse Voices Quarterly, Literature Today, and Tell Us a Story.






 Adirondack Chairs

            for JLM



Low tide odor

drifts up the knobby hill

from Portland harbor.


At the top,

they’re there,

two of them,

Adirondack chairs in pebbled beds,

and they rise like wooden thrones

to overlook the pier,

their legs rotten & stubborn,

their seats faded. 


I would have liked to bring you there

to sit with me again,

to watch the lobster boats

bronzed by sunset motor into port

with full catches,

and how the sun roughened fishermen

hose down their decks,

watching not to slip on grime.


Remember summer?

Manic raindrops pattered mud,

while we recited Dante.

We almost drowned in paradise,

and foghorns blared their dirge.


Sometimes I touched your hand across the chairs

and our fingers clasped,

but there’s no hand to take me home, now-

except my own.


I would have liked you to remember

that I was, and am, unwell. 



in memoriam Robert Lowell



            for my grandmother



Your opera career in photographs.

A choir. Which of them was you?

Perhaps it was your cropped pearl hair

that shed its color early.

You never dyed it.

And your neck.

Your taut singer’s neck strained

for the audience, your children, my breastfed self.


The teapot whistled

from your tacky, jaundiced

hutch of a kitchen.

You commanded me to bring Earl Grey

and mistook my name,

a sour odor seeping where you sat 

with your legs propped on the velvet recliner.


I could hardly believe how irritated I felt.


You had been doing so well

with names and faces,

your memories now a half-erased

etch-a-sketch portrait.


You always said that Grandpa

was “difficult” and “crazy.”

Either walking his Rottweiler too often

or picking extra shifts up as a janitor at Walmart,

so he could “get away from you.”


If that was his reason, I can’t blame him.

I’m filled with nothing but shame for writing it,

but I couldn’t tell you. You’d just forget.



Walk-in Closet


Nothing can tear down the walk-in closet

where bony hips slammed into me,

my virginity stained to the shag rug.

I thought I could leave it there.

I was seven, I knew nothing.


What was more wonderful

than to be a virgin, clean and sound,

on such a night?


He held my hips, his “tip” for babysitting,

the way I held my girlfriend’s when we made love,

when she pleaded “make me scream,” “make it hurt,”

before I pushed her head to the mattress.


I tried to make it hurt that much.



Overgrown Hedges

            For C.A.



My memory is still full of the times

I was buckled to a baby carriage,

dressed in pink overalls,

while you pushed it all around the driveway

and peddled homemade lemonade to panting joggers.


Look over there by your neighbor’s shed.

Right over there was that half buried sewer pipe

where you used to tell me Pennywise the clown

snatched wayward children,

as if we lived in Stephen King’s Maine:


We lie best when we lie to ourselves.


We used to play wiffle ball near that place

until mosquitoes found our shoulders.

It had still been fun for us to come to supper

covered in itchy welts,

having to smear them with calamine lotion

so that we looked like we had vibrant chicken pox.


It is strange coming back to find the lawn unkempt

and the driveway dense with carpetweed.

The hedges never so badly need a trimming.

The mailbox is twenty years old and slants to one side.


This yard has forgotten us.

How minuscule our lives must have been

to not have left a trace.


We all float down here.




Secret Cemetery


 Festive colored candles

fence an unearthed grave

as if exhuming corpses

is a sort of birthday celebration.


A forensic anthropologist,

himself a native Guatemalan,

chisels calcified deposits

collected on the collarbone

of a charred skeleton.


I read that Guatemalans study this profession

with hopes to find their murdered relatives.


Where the soil breaks

in a line of coffee bushes,

two crows flap for lime trees.

The limes look like green lights.

Reagan gave the green light here,

collateral calculated.


But what was that to the indigenous child

burned alive in the village center?

To the pregnant woman hacked in bed?


An infantile skull stares up.

Its toothy grin makes it look

as though it’s either madly laughing,

or lamenting at a joke

the flesh has played on it.


Is he one of those?




Little Lake Sunapee


The buoy beacon bobs,

and repeats its single rhythm,

its base, barnacled and mossy.


I don’t think I’ll reach it.

My pupils widen

with the crescent moon


casting tints of false silver

on the surface

of this crypt-cold reservoir.


The dainty shoreline cottage

with its rickety dock,

lays unused


like the travel journal

you gifted me last summer,

while sparrows bickered


from the smokeless chimney.

Our drunken quarrels

always had an explanation.


When have I never loved

the pain of jealousy?

But this has gone past jealousy


to a mania with the clench

of a madman, a leaping

from the cliff of reason.


You never liked to swim here.

The water must have been too frigid.



Mornings Calm


My grandfather would shoot

the dead end street signs

of backcountry Virginia,

prone in the pickup bed

of the rusted Ford Ranchero

he planned to will to me.


He was investigating if he was still accustomed

to recoil, muzzle flash, gunpowder smell.


I don’t know much

about the Korean War,

except that he received

a terse prosaic from the Draft Board

demanding to give up the farm life he inherited:

his pond with trout and fattened catfish,

the crooning of his cows, those placid bulks

with swollen udders, their tails clotted

with mud and shit.


It took sixteen days

for him to travel to the country

nicknamed “land of mornings calm.”

His drafted farmer friends are still there,

their unrecovered corpses

now fertilizer for the land.     


Whenever my grandfather got a chill,

he swore their patient souls

were trying to seize his attention.


The toppled highway sign

is pocked with bullet holes.






Armani the cat was blind in one eye

and his brain was hemorrhaging.

I was livid at the nonchalance as the doctor said it. 


Her syringe emptied its contents.

I put my hand on Jessie’s shoulder

as though I understood something of her loss.


She caressed his stationary paw,

saying more with her company at that moment

than all their years together cuddled up in bed,


while she highlighted textbooks

or read short stories of Shirley Jackson,

as if the cat could comprehend “The Lottery.”


Euthanasia, Greek for “good death.”

Jessie couldn’t even pay for it.

Every month her mailbox housed that death bill,


its flag raised like an arm

begging to ask a question,

feet from where Armani would sprawl


on the concrete walkway,

poised and tame like a mini Sphinx,

waiting for us to come home


just as we waited for the vet

to administer the waxen cobalt

that appeared almost edible in an IV.





            for Michael Smith



We couldn’t even shotgun Miller Lite.

Even when we cleanly punctured the can,

the diluted beverage sprayed out foam

and spoiled our loose leafed poetry

manuscripts on the patio table.


That morning,

every time Michael

brushed his grandfather’s tombstone off

“out of reverence and respect” he said,

a leaf descended from overhanging cedar boughs.


He told me what his mother said to him:

“you smoke and drink whiskey

just like your grandfather would

during a thunderstorm.”


“I know you never met your grandfather,

but you would have been the best of friends.

If you two went out drinking,

you wouldn’t come home until the sun came up.”


But when the sun retreats so does Michael,

who doesn’t walk to bars alone,

a suspicious face on every passerby

and tan lines where his rings once were.


It began to pour.

Raindrops rattled on a neighbor’s tin-roof shed.

Dead drunk he chain smoked

until the thunderstorm died down.






“Hot Peppers” was originally published in Les Amuse Bouches March 2012.

“Lullaby” was originally published in Untitled, with Passengers July 2013, and Misfit Magazine May 2014

“Sun Cross” was originally published in Untitled, with Passengers June, 2013

and Crack the Spine July 2013.

“Stoned” was originally published as a different poem, “Beyond Good and Evil,” which was published in Stone Highway Review July 2013.

“The Tiber” was originally published in Apeiron Review August 2013. 

“October Hurricane” was originally published in Boston Thought in 2012, Venture in 2013, and the Fall edition of Diverse Voices Quarterly in 2013.

“Adirondack Chairs” was originally published in Misfit Magazine in March 2014, Gravel in Spring 2014, and was specially selected as one of five poems featured in a cultural exchange project with Poetry Pacific in Summer 2014.

“Walk-in Closet” was originally published in Misfit Magazine in May 2014, and Verse Virtual in July 2014.

“Overgrown Hedges” was originally published in Literature Today in Summer 2014.

“Occupy Prague” was originally published in Shoutout UK in July 2014.

“Maggiacomo was originally published in Misfit Magazine in summer 2014, and Verse-Virtual in July 2014.

“Little Lake Sunapee” was originally published in Misfit Magazine in summer 2014, and Verse-Virtual in July 2014.

“The Fourth of July We Me” was originally published in Verse-Virtual in July 2014.

“Kindergarten” was originally published in Verse-Virtual in July 2014.

“IV” was originally published in Verse-Virtual in July 2014.

“Secret Cemetery” was originally published in the Malpais Review in Summer 2014.



4 - Afterword

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