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Contemporary Italian American Writing

Marisa Frasca: First Runner-Up The 2013 Bordighera Poetry Prize: Poems

Sicilian Blood Oranges | E Lucevan le Stelle |
Adults Wear Black

Marisa Frasca, 1st Runner-Up for the Bordighera Poetry Prize, 2013, was chosen by Distinguished Poet-Judge, Lia Purpura: Of her poetry, Purpura said "Frasca knows that the soul and its sensibility is made not only by one’s own personal history, but by a collective and often difficult past that enters the body, the bones, the psyche. In Via Incanto: Poems from the Dark Room, published by Bordighera Press, 2024, Frasca depicts a knottier set of family roots, a legacy that includes violence, brutality, and all-too-human vanities. Precision of detail (“Never saw my kid whipped with oxtail dipped in salt and fat . . .”) and a calm, steady gaze (“The woman with downcast eyes hurries her limping . . .”) promise the reader an authenticity that a more sentimentalized or apologetic view of the past couldn’t bear forth. Here is a writer who trusts language and image to suggest cadence and music, and draws from harshness, a sustaining beauty. Frasca has a BA from The New School’s Riggio Honors Program. In Jan. 2013, She received an MFA in poetry from Drew University. She serves on the Board of The Italian American Studies Association, and on the Board of The Italian American Writers Association. Her poems have appeared in 5AM, Adanna Journal, Philadelphia Poets, Feile Festa. VIA, Sweet Lemons 11, Arba Sicula, and other venues. Frasca has read bilingually and throughout the Metropolitan area. Sample poems by Marisa Frasca and from her book published by Bordighera Press, 2014, follow:

Sicilian Blood Oranges

Every time I bled
you said
don't wash
especially your head
it's bad for you.
And another thing--
don't touch
the plants--the plants wilt,
die, when you have
the things
your things

and tighten those legs,
lower those eyes
don't stare.
Men can see,
smell, always hear
silent mating calls.

Every time I bled
I saw oranges
ripe, Sicilian blood oranges
hit the ground.
I kicked their teeth
until the blood
stopped flowing.

E Lucevan le Stelle

Stars among verses
Usher him in
Taciturn
Somber
Searching for a spot
To take me
Gently
There
Closer to shore
Where the salty air
And moonlight
Coax me
Out of character
As I do this
And that
To him
Who is little more
Than half my age
And doesn't know opera
At all

Adults Wear Black

Three days after my eleventh birthday
As father lay dead in pink powder
And mother sat broken in black
Inside a Queen's funeral parlor
As the funeral man
Said sit up front
Nearer the casket
Wait for people to come
Pay their respects

Hardly anyone came
We didn't have friends
Yet in America
Except one wreath on wire legs
With a gold message
I did not understandAs my legs tired of bending
Near a figure of wax
My fingers ran over
My pretty white blouse
Felt something foreign
Painfully tender
Sensation of swelling breasts
Unleashed an axe
Split me in half
And I wished to grow
One giant wing
Instead of two breasts
Flow low low underfoot
Into the depth
To touch youWill you be wet when it rains?
What's growing in you
Although you are dead
Nails, hair, what else?
Is it painful?
Tender?
Don't send me back
To the pink and the black
and the mouth without song
How will I handle
America
I can't even read
And split as I am
Split as I am
Do you think about that?

Visiting time came to a close
Return at 7:00 pm
For evening prayers
To our heavenly father
Said the funeral man
As I took mother's hand
Led her outside
A war between
The cold and the dark
Was waiting to claim
What an axe had defined
On that day of All Saints
Nineteensixtytwo
When I knew not to count
On any more fathers

________________________________________________
Copyright 2013 by Marisa Frasca. All rights including electronic are reserved by the author.

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