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ISBN 978-1-949279-26-9

Examining the mid-80s when a woman became the Vice-Presidential nominee, when toxic shock syndrome brought discussion of menstruation in public, and her own young adult life, Jennifer Martelli shares a history both personal and public with lines that take our breath away, leaving us writing our “…name in powder, deep-bellied beneath a night club floor.”

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The summer of assassinations?
By the man-made lake? A hole
so shallow and muddy, all the men
held hands, formed a human net and
walked toward each other to the center
to feel for some kid who might have
gone under – there,
on its shore, in the Kodak, me,
in my little terry cloth bikini,
all round as the moon stomach.
I’d worn a Batman mask attached
by a thin rubber band all summer,
my hands fisted, the nails bit crescents
in my palms. 
The summer of my menarche? I stood
against the lazy Susan in the kitchen and
watched the President resign on the small TV:
I cried because of the cramps and blood,
the garter belt biting me. My mother said
we’d never see this again and she was wrong:
even married to my father,
she couldn’t predict the depth
of a man’s rage.

A year after my abortion?
The clinic three stops down
from my dorm, three quick stops
on the Green Line, and no one shot
there yet but escorts needed, one pink
set of rosaries flung at my face.
That year, the year of Ferraro, my aunt said she wouldn’t vote
for anything
    that menstruated, could get pregnant,
could bear a child.

Barbara Bush’s Thoughts on Vice-Presidential Nominee, Geraldine Ferraro, October 15, 1984

I can’t say it but it rhymes with rich
I can’t hear it but it sounds like witch
I would wear it but it’s cheesy as kitsch
I would laugh but it’s purple as vetch
I would kiss it but it’s a real rapey letch,
I can’t keep it, I’ve oiled the latch
I can’t unknow it, I spoke in my klatch
I can’t miss it, I’ve wound my watch
I can’t marry it ‘cause it’s a burnt-out match
I can’t swallow it because I’ll retch
I can’t love it lashed like a wretch
I can’t keep it from circling the ditch
I can’t sing this 4 million-dollar itch
I can’t birth it out from my crotch
I can’t feel it half down my snatch
I can’t swig it down my hatch.

About the Author

Jennifer Martelli is the author of My Tarantella (Bordighera Press), awarded an Honorable Mention from the Italian-American Studies Association, selected as a 2019 “Must Read” by the Massachusetts Center for the Book, and named as a finalist for the Housatonic Book Award. Her chapbook, After Bird, was the winner of the Grey Book Press open reading, 2016. Her work has appeared or will appear in Verse Daily, Iron Horse Review (winner, Photo Finish contest), The Sycamore Review, and POETRY. Jennifer Martelli has twice received grants from the Massachusetts Cultural Council Grant for her poetry. She is co-poetry editor for Mom Egg Review and co-curates the Italian-American Writers Series.


Jennifer Martelli

Copyright © 2020 Jennifer Martelli

Cover design by d’Entremont

ISBN 978-1-949279-26-9

All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review or scholarly journal.

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