about the author

Stephen Massimilla is a poet, writer, critic, and painter. His book Forty Floors From Yesterday received the Sonia Raiziss-Giop Series Bordighera Poetry Prize. His sonnet sequence Later on Aiaia won the Grolier Poetry Prize, and his volume Almost a Second Thought was runner-up for the National Poetry Book Award judged by X. J. Kennedy. His work has also received a Van Renssalaer Award, an Academy of American Poets Prize, The Art Institute of Chicago Literary Award, and two Pushcart Prize nominations. His poems have appeared in AGNI, American Literary Review, Barrow Street, Bellingham Review, Chelsea, Denver Quarterly, Descant, Epoch, Fulcrum, Grey Sparrow, High Plains Literary Review, Marlboro Review, Paterson Literary Review, Phoebe, Provincetown Arts Magazine, The Southern Poetry Review, Tampa Review, Tusculum Review, and a hundred other journals and anthologies. Massimilla holds an MFA and a PhD from Columbia University, where he teaches classics and modernist literature.


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Dusty Took Dips

Stephen Massimilla



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Shot with neon tetras, damsel-
flies, needles, darn them, her skirt
hitched to hurt, never beneath overcoming

footprints in wet surf. But only x-many cubits
from the dunes, nudity after flesh-colored silk
worn for hours after sundown

seemed right. Sea unclutching sheets
over pinstriped fish that never come up
in conversation. After each smoothed stretch of my

missed drift, why speak? Next day, all she needed
to catch was her breath, halation lost
to yellow sky in which a salted bride of mist

thinned to trace in branches an alphabet
of the absolute. All along the bleached-
out edge of the fence

the summer after that, she kissed
without reference to ichthyologic acts.
Maybe we were coming up swimmingly,

unfurling among fiddlehead fountains,
forget-me-nots, lit spots dimming
far down the road, in anticipation of the dead

of night in the dead
of summer that followed. Even then, one of us stood
up shaken, torn and fierce as the risen

Lord. Thank God that’s over. Now I have to witness
and adjust. Now I have to drive
the goddamn car.





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