Two poems by Jon Riccio


Amateur musicians talk upstate escapees
and was that a tick I washed down the drain
after coffee with the pediatrician who brought
her cello from Quebec to Camp Quartet?
I told her about the clinic incident over
paella and cheese—rubella needle
unlocking the wrong nerve—cartilage
released from its skin duties years before
my parents’ litigious streak, jeans hiding
the gully where my upper-right leg should be.
Second in a somnambulist family, bonding
meant my father taught me to sleepwalk,
his socks a cough medicine green.

I’m Generation Milk Carton, from a time
when telecenters flashed 800 and if I had
a dime for every capture-the-bad-guy tip,
the reward money went to my brother building
a rink out of party store ice, our basement
a barber stool, colander, and cubemelt,
his speed-skating promise Zambonis out
of reach. His jail stint required no break
but I had the bedroom to myself for a week.

My brother’s legs won pissing contests
versus me, pyrite footnote on a gem show
cheat sheet, motion verbs stunting my lap,
felons lamming the airport’s CNN, every shot
glass a gift shop in the gate. Airborne, the thought
occurs to me—lavatory, the more claustrophobic,
the more beautiful a word. Stenographers,
do they love fugitive’s multivalent G, that tick,
should I report my garbage disposal to the CDC?

If you saw my leg, you’d compliment its kneecap
chic. Stare long enough and barcodes resemble
the drying off point in a Lilliputian carwash.
Give my time capsule legroom enough and
you’d be eavesdropping on the layer
that taught me to pervade.



The Circumstance Factory

Friday, December 21, 2012, was believed by some to be the end of the world.
Good Morning America

Doomsday I took off from work to close
my credit union account, nothing wealthy
or panic. Holiday decals peeling, Top 40
vocoder in the background echoing a Rubik’s

larynx. My teller is the one who amasses the most
shamrocks, hearts, Hallmark what-have-yous,
his vigilance better than an exploding dye pack,
his assistance welcomed when my agoraphobia

fidgets and detaches: Johnny Flamingo, named
for the way I piss in truck-stop stalls, leg guarding
the door, graffiti given a peek. I varied this ritual
at a urinal once and was bashed.

So my teller, Captain Tenspot, he snaps Johnny
into submission. Nothing schism in a nowhere
somatic, I amble and un-ratchet, General Nickel
rectifying more than any relative or reuptake.

I’ve consumed three generations of home.

Camouflage your phobia and people assume
it’s nerves or habit. YouTubable eccentric at
his warning label worst. I must tell you about
white-knuckling through the circumstance factory:

the avian uremic,
behind-stall solstice,
omens furled as a combatant.


Jon Riccio received his MFA from the University of Arizona. Current and forthcoming poems appear in Cleaver, Hawai’i Review, Pamplemousse, Bridge Eight, Carbon Culture Review, and Mead, among others. He resides in Tucson.

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