/j riccio


A tobacco tin floats down Fourth Avenue,
lip cud seeping into the massage shop
owned by a man of sieved repute,
a wig surfacing next to his bureau
of qi alignment.

Mannequin by mannequin,
the casita of wedding gowns
enthralls and dissolves. With this garter
I betroth the sawdust-endowed.
Detritus, a helpmate you rescue
not so much as collect,

cutouts saved from a video store’s 
basement of Kevin Costners,
Red Sonja holding court.
Between ersatz and amour:
one building’s condemned,  
my den’s condoned. 

I salvage a deli’s mural—
sandwich woman riding
a broomrain jimmying
the brick that loves me back.

It’s the cast-offs that keep
me in check. I’d lose my nerve 
if it wasn’t stormed.


Not the funerary of his father’s tree,
this one came with a butane sheen.
By seven, his toy chest an intake:
                          a spent squirrel here,
                          faded vole there,
never a tabby or bichon stray
though we had the pet groomer next door. His first incinerator built the week he turned ten.

Aptitude for an urn,
                          in cremains he peaks.
                          He eulogized a raccoon
on my way to the Laundromat

can’t work smelling of diesel blouse—days
at the nature center where I converse with the ibex tableaux.
             They say I culled luminance from impulse,
funneled it into a mortician stream.
             Skill like that                how could I thwart?
             Better the prodigy you parent,
                          outlet a talent,

              the nurture in which you distinct.

Jonathan Riccio is a PhD candidate and composition instructor at the University of Southern Mississippi’s Center for Writers. Current and forthcoming work appears in apt, Booth, Cleaver, Jazz Cigarette, Permafrost, Switchback, and Waxwing, among others. He received his MFA from the University of Arizona.