m.j. iuppa

A Beautiful Arrogance

While taking her time combing her hair, she
spoke smoky words under her breath.

She had a dream of palm trees, not in soft rain
or pressed against a blood-orange sunset,

but in the arctic with strings of small white
lights, blinking on and off.

Not what you wanted to hear– and she knew it
without looking at you– her glossy red lips

pursed– moist and untouchable.

Thoughts keep her adrift:

                                   This afternoon
in the kitchen, her hand absent-mindedly
passes into the dishwater’s fading suds

making the handle’s shadow swirl up
with its blade– the sting– immediate–
bleeding onto the clean plate:

open mouths
          disintegrate into screams;
                                   faces flying through glass–

She stares in the cold light,
bright pain flowing like water.


Why does the professor teach
the geography of death?
~ Neruda

We slept
beneath a map
of the world while his voice,
a phosphorous light, pulsed above–

M.J. Iuppa lives on a small farm near the shores of Lake Ontario.  Her most recent chapbook is As the Crows Flies (Foothills Publishing, 2008) and second full length collection, Within Reach, (Cherry Grove Collections, 2010).  She is Writer-in-Residence and Director of the Visual and Performing Arts Minor Program at St. John Fisher College, Rochester, NY.