Claudia Cortese


lass in a flesh-dress with milk skin and milk teeth
and hair like oats boiled in eggspit,

the mouth lacking shame, the far-away glaze
that descends Lucy's eyes when her edges

turn edgeless, when feelings curdle so quickly
and so fully all else vanishes

and she becomes everything-at-once
like water boiling the steel skin from a kettle,

though the kettle's shape remains so the liquid
becomes a kettle-shaped form, fluid and searing—

what some call blind rage
doesn't mean Lucy cannot see, it means

she sees so much, sight can't contain it,
and she throws a wingback chair at her father's torso,

she cracks her sister's temple on the chaise lounge,
she tears divan cushions with her teeth,

shows—beyond the catalog promises
of comfy, ergonomic, guaranteed or money returns—

furniture's many uses.

Claudia Cortese's first full-length book, Wasp Queen, will be published by Black Lawrence Press in 2016. Cortese is also the author of two chapbooks: Blood Medals (Thrush Poetry Press, 2015), a collection of prose poems, and The Red Essay and Other Histories (Horse Less Press, 2015), a book of lyric essays. Her work has appeared in Best New Poets 2011, Blackbird, Black Warrior Review, Crazyhorse, Gulf Coast Online, and Sixth Finch, among others. The daughter of Neapolitan immigrants, Cortese grew up in Ohio and lives in New Jersey, where she teaches at Montclair State University. 

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