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ISSUE 5

Giancarlo Malchiodi

 

Two Chairs

face each other across stained formica

another friday– pasta and fish

talk of news and sports and weather

 

grandfather checks the mail

a true american mr. reagan says

a congressional certificate for your support and

could you please send a further donation?

a note

from

the president

nonno was so proud

gold frame nailed to tenement wall

he never heard of form letters

and you never tell him

never let your stare meet his

just sit, tap fingers

inspect tin ceiling, floor, coffee mug

chew the lining in your cheeks

like day-old wrigley’s

then stand

pace

circle the room

fish for a marlboro

flare a match

pace   puff

pace   flick ash

puff   pace   puff

then drop the stub in mug

free hand hangs useless behind

shakes in small circles

     bruce lee gathering chi for

     the final killer punch–

     except you never throw it, Dad,

     at least not lately

and then pace

   pace

pace

 

energy like warm breath

wasted in new york city winter

 

 

The Feet I Been

When I ran with gang named TLB

for The Law Breakers or The Lover Boys

depending on who asked,

     and why,

there

were green

    suede

      Pumas

prowling Canal to buy exotic knives

because the blades

looked cool.

Hung out on Mott

to earn July 4 dollars

and a tin-ear

from the BOOM of M-80s.

 

When Krylon caps and fat-tip markers,

homemade out of tinfoil

and blackboard eraser,

still shook color in subway and street,

there

were green

    suede

      Pumas

booking through crawlspace and tunnel,

5-0 trailing slow.

Dayglo murals now become

plain handball walls

and masters Dondi, Lee, and Futura

nearly erased from Time.

 

When rap was new and predicted to die quick...

Before the snap-crackle-pop of turntable twist

turned sampledigital

and booming jeeps that jar teeth

replaced the what's up-strut

and boom-box beat,

before Run-DMC found Jesus—

shaved their heads

to save their careers—

there

were green

    suede

      Pumas

skimming the battlefield of basketball court

where five-foot-six Chinese livery drivers

were the best shots in a pick-up game.

Torn screen of the Essex Theater

a backdrop

for our version

of The Five Shaolin Masters of Death...

But no one ever got hurt.

 

Today, permanent scowl and eyelid droop

on handsome city faces.

No more basketball styling,

Kung Fu profiling,

the symbol of manhood.

Just cut out the middle man...

Go straight for the steel.

 

And the teen on the A-Train

with green

    suede

      Pumas

in 2024

makes me wonder

if it's my feet

or

the

    shoes

that got too big.

Two ChairsGiancarlo Malchiodi
00:00 / 01:49
The Feet I BeenGiancarlo Malchiodi
00:00 / 02:41

Giancarlo Malchiodi is forever a child of the Lower East Side who decided at age thirteen to become a teacher of English. Spending thirty years in that vocation, he sparked the creativity of many young minds. Finding escape/hope through literature and the adventures of super-heroes, Giancarlo marvels moreso at the labor of all frontline workers including those in Education. When not teaching, reading, writing, podcasting, or absorbing news/pop culture, Giancarlo can be found wandering the streets to discover the City anew, or 125+ feet undersea where his passion for SCUBA diving led to his certification as a professional DiveMaster.

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