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Contemporary Italian American Writing

Barbara Fragoletti Hoffman: 1st Runner-Up 2008

Heat of Burnt Stubble | Una Furtiva Lachryma | The Life & Hard Times of

Barbara Fragoletti Hoffman was named 1st runner-up in 2008 for the Bordighera Poetry Prize by judge: Michael Palma. Her poetry has been widely published in various poetry journals, both in the U.S. and abroard. Her short fiction has appeared in Catholic Girls, published by Penguin and her articles have been published in The New York Times and Newsday. She was the subject of a WLIW channel 21 show “Originals” an “Arts on Long Island” series. She has been awarded a Fellowship to Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Sweetbriar, Virginia. About her poetry, Michael Palma wrote: “Barbara Fragoletti Hoffman’s book contains a poem called “The Heat of Burnt Stubble.” Heat seems to be the dominant motif in these poems that have been honed and sharpened to a fine point without sacrificing their raw power and directness. There is the searing heat of anger and anguish at the cruelty and violence of the world, whether inflicted by a single gunman or by terrorists in airplanes; the stifling heat of heaviness and oppression, as the spirit struggles with the burdens of family, religion, and marriage; and the glowing heat of sexual desire and its occasional fulfillments. There is pain here, and much regret, but there is joy too, and hard-won understanding, and an emotional truth that refuses to conform to what it cannot respect. These are poems that will linger in the mind long after they have been read.” The following are sample poems from her manuscript, The Heat of Burnt Stubble.

The Heat of Burnt Stubble


the heat of his tongue
licking my skin
the godless godful
unpure impure feeling
of his tongue
in the pink folds
the heat of his breath
into fold upon fold
layering heat
enough heat
to sear Catholicism
to a burnt stubble
of pubic hair

___________________
First Published in Fulva Flava, © Barbars Fragletti Hoffman. All rights reserved

Una Furtiva Lachryma
(One Secret Tear) after September 11, 2001


what can hold this grief
no man or woman in frail skin
and shaking bones
only the cobalt vault of sky
or the back of the turtle
on which the earth rests

only the gnarled roots
of a stand of mangrove trees

reaching out under water
to cradle grief in outstretched limbs

grief does not know its own depth
nor its length or breadth

what can hold this grief

only the winding sheet of meadow
blanketed in daisies

the flock of snowy egrets
blotting out the sky

or the gam of white whales
pushing through dark water

what can hold this grief

only una furtiva lachryma
the one secret tear

which floods the body
ruins it resurrects it

________________________________
First published in Light of City and Sea Anthology ©2008
by Barbara Fragoletti Hoffman. All rights reserved.

The Life & Hard Times of

At 35, I woke
from the housewife sleep of 16 years,
threw off the covers.

No more babies to powder.
My husband VP at the bank.
My part-time job so part-time.
Red and green lights winked
at each intersection.
“Come on!” they said.

So I signed up at the university.
My husband frowned.
My hair got curly.
“Straighten it,” he said.

I showed my teeth when I smiled.
Showed my legs when I danced.
I felt illegal.

“Cover up!” he said, red-faced
as he went to more business dinners
& the children banged on the door
while I did my homework.

A-plus was my reward at school.
The handsome parish priest left a bottle
of Cold Duck on my doorstep.

Could I consider that an Act of God?

Copyright © 2008 by Barbara Fragoletti Hoffman. All rights reserved, including electronic, from her ms. titled, The Heat of Burnt Stubble.

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