Spring 2011, Volume 10

Poetry by Stephen Massimilla

Specter of August

After napping, I forget what it was.
Was summer

well past baby teeth and gums, a pale checkered cob
that I held and churned in my jaw
                                                     afraid I’d lose
the shine, the salt,
the tongue? Can’t tell fading corn

from the faint heat radiating
to the horizon. Maybe the Indian

summer yet to come will flame out
red-gold into dusk,
Indian corn meanwhile held
                                        in dry storage, silk hair

straggling from bone husks, pretty
for the Day of the Dead? Did I forget,
through the glassy squeak of crickets,

the last oily call of a frog,
placental glitter of its left-
over tail? A live thing

slippery as lake weed,
with a mind to drop
through watery

light, spirit
that startled me
as a child?  



BIO: Stephen Massimilla is a poet and visual artist from Sea Cliff, New York. His book Forty Floors From Yesterday (Bordighera Press) received the Sonia Raiziss-Giop Series Bordighera Poetry Prize. His sonnet sequence Later On Aiaiai received the 2001 Grolier Poetry Prize. Other work was selected by Kenneth Koch for a Van Rensselaer Prize. He has also received an Academy of American Poets Prize, and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago Literary Award. His work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Massimilla's poems have appeared in Agni, The American Literary Review, Barrow Street, Bellingham Review, Chelsea, Denver Quarterly, Descant, Epoch, The High Plains Literary Review, The Madison Review, The Marlboro Review, Paterson Literary Review, Phoebe, Provincetown Arts, Puerto Del Sol, The Southern Poetry Review, Tampa Review, Terrain.org, Tusculum Review, and dozens of other journals and anthologies. He received an MFA and Ph.D. in modern poetry from Columbia University. He teaches world literature at Columbia University and Barnard College.