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My go-to shirt is the one

Jenny wears when she reads "Warning"

off-white, rows of tiny tucks along buttons

that stop below my breasts

hidden in generous folds of fabric

thin like my skin, slightly see-through -


                 from The board game by Polly Giantonio 







The board game


When painting absorbs me

Anna’s mom

Hello Dirt

Slipping away

love and hate

God’s walk with Hitler

Most likely it is early May 1955

Self portrait on my body




1 – BIOGRAPHY:  Polly Giantonio


Polly Giantonio lives in Vermont, USA. Her search for harmony and meaning as a teenager began her on a journey of unconventional adventures. Her dive into creativity began when she explored the depth of her dreams through a Jungian lens. Her passion for writing and poetry began 12 years ago, and in the last three she has focused more time on poetry. Jim Bennett has been instrumental as a poetry mentor through his ability to encourage and prompt her in exploring the range of her writing. Her work has been published in Poets & Writers, and in various poetry journals.







The board game


My go-to shirt is the one

Jenny wears when she reads "Warning"

off-white, rows of tiny tucks along buttons

that stop below my breasts

hidden in generous folds of fabric

thin like my skin, slightly see-through -


so when I visit the kids

I wear the shirt

forget my dress

(that hugged my then-very-flat-belly)

and my Italian-leather cowgirl boots retired

from the rodeo, hoots, hollers,

the blacksmith's heat

and the field-flower bouquet he picked,

dried, hung still fights against time


when the kids and I gather

around a board game

their minds razor through complex moves

steps ahead of me

their eyes clear like a desertscape


(I was there once when the desert bloomed

my cowboy around the campfire

naked ass lit by the fire

his long tool snaking up my muscled thigh)


the strategy is lost in my mind

it isn't because I need new glasses -

I toss back the shooter of vodka and simple syrup -


my vision warns me of a point ahead


we're soldiers in this game with a shared goal to win -

the kids see possibilities


the vanishing point

is all I perceive





Farms, fields, and forests weave through the Green Mountains of Vermont. Their shapes and inhabitants have escaped the geometry of suburbia. Tonight in this field, the air is like a heart when it stops beating. The sky is a winter lake. Stars mimic snowflakes scattering in a storm.


stars sparkle like snow

a moose runs through a field

air is frozen in silence


Solar panels stand shoulder-to-shoulder like an army of marching columns with their sole purpose to seize power. Their dark energy displaces wildlife like autocracy polarizes friends. They reduce the terrain to order.


a black battalion

a field of floating panels

displace the wild life



When painting absorbs me


Mother's precise lines, flat palette      dull      a face,              muffle             a stream.    Paint,                       she instructs            

                        but                                   I would lose myself                anyway                                                     on a canvas she began.



She lunches with friends - fine wines.                 They laud the depth and colors                     of her latest alla prima portrait

                        painted            by                                            me.



Before I could read,                                                          light in Vermeer's paintings,                                     hair curls by DaVinci,

            shadows,         folds of fabric                                           fascinated me.


                                                                        Colors                             p u l s e                        in my eyes constantly - 

                                    the warmth of a lip,                               through the tip of my brush                                            a muscle moves      a smile

                       how - 

                                             facial tones come naturally.                          I blend a tone of blue,                                a vein at the edge

                                                                                a                     woman's                    eye.



Today Mother watches me                          as I finish, her tight mouth curves - without a word, she takes the brush

                                                            from my hand                                and                               signs her name.


Anna's mom


if she had looked

she'd see her naked breasts

size B or C, legs lean

like a thoroughbred


did she know - in 1935 -

that Depression teens spread their legs

for fun (not just over a horse

during dressage)


had she ever heard herself groan?

was she allowed without a driver

a chaperone who told her

say no, no, no


Anna would've told her mom

to ride unsaddled - nothing between

your groin and the horse's back -

when you're in the dark barn


undo your braid, damp riding-britches, 

Anna would've said,

and make love unbridled

to dad like that



Hello Dirt 


I've thought about you a lot recently -

want you to know I'll be visiting in a month or so

not a short-and-sweet, but semi-permanent.

I've discovered a waterfall, part of your estate

on the west end - (it's not Niagara Falls

but the size that flows from a forest creek

over a grand rock to a pool fit for a child

or a ripened body) - where the sunset adds


an orange-pink during the golden hours.

I'll bring only a few things - nothing that will disturb

your aesthetics. We've not spent much time together

though we've talked when I'm digging with my shovel -

like when I made a home for the new peony last Spring -

or when I dug the hole for the fringe tree

and mingled my dog's ashes with your soil. It was as if you

wanted her in that spot where she could breathe and meet


other creatures. The tree thrives.

Remember I told you how kind of you to provide her

a place where rainwater would quench her thirst?

That reminds me of why I'm writing you now -

to thank you in advance for the hospitality

you'll extend to me - old friends have said

you're a generous host to long time guests.

I'll be quiet and still, I promise, while I rest.



Slipping away


sand from the shoreline

vineyards lost to fire

glaciers from Antarctica

a mink into water


a lock of hair down the drain

she is slipping away

with a word she can't recall

an image out of reach


overcome by pain

alone in her fear

she's crawling into a cave

with valium and nightmares


wine slips down my throat

like placenta after birth


love and hate


I've often wondered about a poppy's voice

as I watch wind ruffle its red petals


I imagine I'd hear a woman singing in waves

like a cello playing a Dvorak concerto


waves knocking against a boat

inseparable from the ocean


the song would take me - far away

from the machine-gun blasts that will not retreat


from explosions bursting through nerves, screams

that creep into dreams, cries that fractured nights gone by


the song would play that day into the next

move like blood through veins


to the heart where it becomes bold

and a new rhythm would splay me open


God's walk with Hitler


a red fox chills the air with its screech -

the two stop where the river splits

a bodice hugs her ripe breasts

that rise like wings with breath


her skin assumes a caramel glow from the moon

his shark's gray skin, a camouflage

his bat-like eyes avert her gaze


a second screech warns - his presence

unearths demons from the depths of Earth's core

an army, greater than Sauron's or Ravan's,

eliminates lives like a machine pulverizes waste

he impassions them to believe they're supreme


her round belly pulses with a movement in her womb

I am a virus, he says in leaving,

that will mutate and survive


most likely it is early May 1955


on the night I was conceived

she waltzes with grace

his fingers snap to the swing

her feet jive with ease

away from 5 children

and a barn of animals


does he lead her through the love act

as he led her to the dance floor

palm outstretched,

his blue eyes sinking into her


on the night I was conceived

is she stiff, randy,

or uninspired

does she touch his sex

does he go down

or was that perverse


is it quick, does it hurt

do they wipe away

their pleasure or relish

damp sheets and skin


on the night I was conceived

does he fall asleep

inside or beside her

does she lie awake wondering

what was the flicker

in her pelvis that died


I like to imagine her

after making love

pleased though not sure why

on the night I was conceived


Self-portrait on my body


Between 3-4 a.m., before a snowplow rumbles by, a tail flicks

my left clavicle, ripples around my neck to the right

where the panther's paw clings to my sternum -

her sleek body a shield for my Caucasian chest,

our ribs expanding as I breathe.


When I'm still, her head rests at my navel,

nose nudges a cub that tumbles across my pelvis,

its brother rolls in a ball across my right thigh

toward the left flush with orange-gold wings

of a butterfly in flight whose antenna acts

as a brush painting a zinnia pink.


A bee on my hip buzzes upward where the head

of a red poppy bows with rain drops falling

into pearls whorled around back

by a wind-cloud. Some ripen as apples, others

scatter around roots beside the babbles

of a sacrum stream, blue as my eyes.


The tree trunk travels my spine, its branches arching

one side to the other. As I stretch my arm up,

a moon rises on the deltoid at dusk.

My hair curls like dried miscanthus,

platinum-gray strands

in untamed disarray. 




3 - Afterword

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We are looking for other poets to feature in this series, and are open to submissions.  Please send one poem and a short bio to - info@poetrykit.org

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