Poetry by Kiki Petrosino

Images by Ming Ying Hong / mingyinghong.com

First Girdle


For this glob of a girl who feeds like a grub. For her teeming belly-apron. For her frowning navel, sunk like a moon in the night-night lake. For the soft eggs of flab that hatch in her. Those marbled thighs & indigo veins. That mattress flank. This wants a form of firmness, extra-full control with capri-leg grips: nude, pink, black, or blood-blue lace tacked down with hidden latex. She’s primed now, a poreless receptacle for presidential-fitness-test-sweat. But consider the criss-crossed orbitals of redness at her waist. Note the pinching tugs she sneaks to force the hems of her culottes down. Now give her some tape, a belt, a body-liner. Give her a diamond-textured skin for prowling dark kitchens after bed. Enough pastel mesh to hold the semi-sweet chips melting in her palms. To suspend the cold ingots of white butter she thumbs from the fridge. Can’t you come up with a cord to forgive her with? Some sort of shaper that may shunt her starfish hands & aphid appetite? At night, at night, when all her dream-wishes rise as serpents of smoke on the tongue—




Bikini Bridge


Stay as long as you like in the water-green shade.
Your blouse sticks to your back in tiny ridges, but your face is cool.

This isn’t your country. You don’t know the bridge-maker who sank his tools
in the sea.

A breeze twists up your bare legs: recall
one June morning, when you planted your cold wish under a pink sun.

Now take the spade from your satchel & begin to dig. People say the earth is
a body.

You disagree.



Kiki Petrosino is the author of two books of poetry: Hymn for the Black Terrific (2013) and Fort Red Border (2009), both from Sarabande Books. She holds graduate degrees from the University of Chicago and the University of Iowa Writer’s Workshop. Her poems have appeared in Best American Poetry, The New York Times, FENCE, Gulf Coast, Jubilat, Tin House and elsewhere. She is founder and co-editor of Transom, an independent on-line poetry journal. She is an Associate Professor of English at the University of Louisville, where she directs the Creative Writing Program.