SLIDING INTO CHAOS

At this very moment
my 94 year old aunt
is bent over the morning paper
The braids of her still blond hair
wrap like a coiled snake around her head
as her blue eyes strain to read
the small black print of the paper.
She stares at the headline, gripping her coffee
This morning the world is so different
from when we were young

I sit at a distance
smelling the inky pages
of The Florida Times
For a moment I wonder
what captured her attention
till I notice the tiny thumbnail photos

Hundreds of men, their faces in neat little boxes, inmates
in for capital crimes, in for rape and murder
Having served their time
they're going out, no supervision.
To reduce costs, the State of Florida just tossed 764 prisoners
to the streets.

“Are you kidding me?" she yells. "Jail is too good for them."
Her eyes lock onto mine
and we sit there stunned, wondering
if peace is an idyllic notion of the past

Are we all being cast into chaos?
Especially the women of the world
for whom rape and murder are now commonplace
no place
left to escape.

We look at their faces captured in ink
and suddenly I see the link
realizing my aunt could die
and if she and every other woman I love were not here
what a difference it would make

My aunts, cousins, sisters, and female friends
how I rely on them
Their sustenance holds me up
so delicate and strong , like a crystal cup
of faith and love

Every day, they sustain me
nourish me
on days when this world is a black hole of loss
and everything good is getting tossed

On days when this world is a spiral
sucking me down
a spinning vortex, in which I could drown

They are the only firm ground
on which I stand.

 

Giovanna Capone is a poet, fiction writer, and playwright. She was raised in an Italian American neighborhood in New York, whose strong immigrant influence still resonates in her life. Her book: In My Neighborhood: Poetry & Prose from an Italian-American, was published in 2014. Her work has appeared in various other publications. A partial list includes: Curaggia: Writing by Women of Italian Descent; Unsettling America: An Anthology of Contemporary Multicultural Poetry; Avanti Popolo: Italian-American Writers Sail Beyond Columbus; and Queer View Mirror 2, Lesbian & Gay Short Short Fiction. An interview with Giovanna appears in Daughters, Dads, and the Path Through Grief: Tales from Italian America, ed. by DiCello & Mangione. Giovanna’s play, Her Kiss, was produced and performed in San Francisco by Luna Sea Women’s Performance Project, in their first Dyke Drama Festival in 1999. She also co-edited Hey Paesan! Writing by Lesbians & Gay Men of Italian Descent with Tommi Avicolli Mecca and Denise Nico Leto. It was a Lambda Literary Award finalist in the year 2000.  Most recently, Giovanna has been co-editing a book of short fiction and memoir by lesbian authors, entitled: Dispatches from Lesbian America. It's forthcoming in Dec., 2016. Giovanna works as a public librarian in the San Francisco Bay Area. For more information, visit her site