“Sunday Series” by Clare Paniccia


I don’t listen to classic rock
because it reminds me of my dad
when he was seventeen
smoking outside of the Stewart’s Shops on
Western Avenue
with those Albany boys my grandmother loved to hate

the blue car, windows tinted,
always parked crooked as if it had just drove in
from Arbor Hill with an ounce
and the biggest cock in the world
—a regular Eastwood
with an afro
and thrifted aviators
from Aunt Jennie’s basement


when I was eight I asked my dad
if he had smoked hash with his sisters
across from Paige Elementary

brown stains dappled the orange paint
just behind the bed where he had slept,
the oils seeping down towards
the vent

like slow-moving sins.

he told me no,
he hadn’t,
and I knew he was lying

the plastic Jesus had seen it all
from just above the window pane


Cinco de Mayo, 2010
I was face-down in a bathroom off Hertel
my friends cheering,
everyone cheering,

Michael asked me if I wanted wings
and what kind

I told him I wanted white ones,
like those big angel to-do’s you see
in the hymnal books on Sunday


Tom Petty comes on and I think about how
my dad came home from work one Thursday
and drank four shots of tequila over the sink

my mom called about it, said he was throwing up
and the bottle was gone—off
the balcony,
smashed on the sidewalk

said maybe he should go to church again

but I knew it wasn’t in him
and it isn’t in me

Clare Paniccia lives in Cape Girardeau, Missouri with her two cats, a bunch of unread books, and the Mississippi River. Her work has been published in Cumberland River Review, on PressBoardPress, and has also been nominated for inclusion in Best New Poets. A native New Yorker, she is currently an M.A. candidate at Southeast Missouri State University, where she studies professional writing.

Image: “Superheroes Assemble!” by Daniel Nester

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