I was lucky enough to receive a manuscript of Margie’s to review during a round of Sixfold in 2014. Not only was Margie’s poetry the stand-out of the entire competition for me, it also contained some of the most vibrant, thoughtful and sensual lines I’ve ever had the pleasure to read. Margie is an exceptionally talented writer who sets the page alight with her mouth-watering descriptive phrasing and careful word selection. She manages to imbue love poems with a sense of freshness and changed perspective, bringing new life and a sleek, modern feel. I frequently find myself slipping right out of this world and into the world she has conjured as I read.
Prior to reading ‘Orphans’, I would have struggled to choose just one of Margie’s poems to feature – but, in an ocean of stars, this one shines brightest of all for me. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
“She holds the pen that spells the end, she traces me and draws me in.” – Metallica, Sweet Amber
A fat, black, beer-bellied fly got in the elevator
and rode with me to the balcony on the second floor. In the space between,
hardly a breath,
all I could remember was that first cool night, your cool green eyes,
stone-washed sea glass – rough edges churned smooth in the crush and turn of ancient sand,
glowing in the hum of electrified beer signs, piercing the dark of that late-October night.
I always thought they were blue –
like the soft cotton blanket in the hatchback of my ’89 Dodge –
The catch of breath,
thick in my throat
as I, coming out,
and you, going in.
The slight, polite, quarter inch turn of our bodies, courteously not bumping.
As we passed, eyes locked in the aftermath,
I already knew –
I wanted you to touch me.
is all I had said.
The word slipped carelessly from between my teeth.
Low, breathily, aloud – out before I could stop myself thinking it.
And I, betrayed by my own lips,
momentarily disarmed by your masculine beauty –
Adonis’ perfection in human form.
And you, the expression of your mossy eyes confessing you had heard. (I was glad.)
Mesmerized, foolish girl – I drove off.
And I –
thankful for the red light, the timely pause slowing the glide of my drive home –
got out of my sporty, tough-girl car, walked up to yours,
Marlboro smoke leaking from your cracked window –
took aim for the gap and dropped the slip of paper into your lap.
I knew you would call.
I didn’t want to love you –
the stormy twilight in your grassy eyes,
chiseled cheek bones, perfect jaw line,
you hair, seasoned by dirt and sweat and plumbing grease,
your muscular drummer’s arms,
the turn of bicep to elbow
the curve of a Soquel mountain road,
your scarred plumber’s hands.
Our scarred orphan souls.
Certain experiences connect people,
death – loss – rape
in a way nothing else can.
It is lonely and beautiful –
the tragic, the vile, drawing us together,
parting us from others.
Recognized by intuition, the words never spoken.
Children irrevocably lost
to the spiders’ endless spinning –
caught in silky-webbed lies,
their reckless feeding,
wantonly drinking the blood of our youth.
insignificant in their hunger for flies,
we somehow feel real again.
And sane. And whole.
You know what your hands on my body have cost me.
I know, the splinters in the tops of my feet are a gift.
You know why my hair flames red.
I know, the scratch of your stress-bitten nails, a blessing.
You know why my eyes spit fire.
I know, your palms anoint my shoulders.
You drink down the acid of other men, swallow willingly, I understand.
We know, the violent clinging to something as dark and real as the ghosts living inside us.
We find comfort together,
in a place few understand.
It is our uninhibited taking back of the stolen, nameless things.
We stop just short of “I love you,”
but I love you – I have always loved you.
I love the secret, the ugly,
the misshapen pieces,
the familiar, innate brokenness,
the sharp cut shards, untouchable fragments at our cores.
I want your dirty, your dark, your fucked up parts.
I want the skeletons,
the ear-splitting rage of your tortured psyche.
I want the fractured haunting.
That part of you will always be mine, only mine.
I tell myself I am writing you so I can forget,
so I can let go, but
I am not convinced.
I know it is a lie.
© 2014 Margie Curcio
originally published in Porter Gulch Review 2015
Name: Margie Curcio
Location: New Jersey, USA
Influences: There are so many writers who have influenced me in one way or another. I loved reading the classics in high school and college – everything from Shakespeare to Hemingway and all else in between. Jane Austen I return to again and again when I have horrific bouts of writer’s block – usually Pride and Prejudice, but also Sense & Sensibility. I think those books particularly stand out to me not only because they are great love stories, but also because they are books about the relationships between sisters and because my sister, Lizzie, has always been such an important person in my life. Anne Rice was definitely a big influence on some of my earlier writing, the sort of stuff my sister has strict orders to burn should I meet an untimely demise. Rice made the dark accessible and writeable. She showed me that love isn’t always flowers and love songs – there is dark love too. Marguerite Duras’ book The Lover is another longtime favorite. It shows how some loves just always stay with you even though time passes and life moves on. I think The Lover resonates with me so much because a lot of my writing involves past loves and/or people who just carved out their own little place in my head or heart and stayed with me despite time and circumstance. There are some people I have loved that I will carry little pieces of with me forever.
Regarding poetic influences, there are classics here as well – Shakespeare’s sonnets, obviously, though I don’t write much that rhymes, if ever. Emily Dickinson too, of course. But I think most of my poetic influences are much more modern – Pablo Neruda for sure; after all, he is the absolute king of all the love poets: “The moon lives in the lining of your skin” what woman wouldn’t want to be told that? Or when he is talking about a lost love: “Like a flower to its perfume I am bound to my vague memory of you.” Someone who recently reviewed some of my work commented about how he believes “love poems are basically dead” and that “everything that could be said about love has already been said.” I don’t believe that’s true. There are so many variations on love that you can write it new forever. And I really strive to do that in my writing, to show the uniqueness of each human interaction. Each love is different. I truly believe that we never love the same way twice. Every love is different and we are attracted to different people for different reasons. I try to show those variations when I write. If I wrote all my loves the same it wouldn’t do justice to them or to what we shared because it wouldn’t be honest.
Other important influences include my current-day peers: Women like Julia Alter Canvin who I used to write with when I lived in Santa Cruz, Ca. Julia is just wonderful. And there’s Caitlyn Siehl and Clementine Von Radics, who really resonate with me. I’m also a bit into binge-watching spoken word /slam poetry on You Tube right now – Button Poetry features a lot of really awesome slammers. Huffington Post also puts up some great slam videos. My favorite slam poet right now is Desiree Dallagiacomo – her poem Thighs – wow, just wow – you have to watch it on You Tube. And Chris Leja – his poem Aporia is definitely a must-watch as well. I haven’t really written much in the way of slam, but there’s a poem slowly forming right now that I think could go that way. I love the performance aspect of it, but it terrifies me at the same time. I get really nervous at readings. I turn bright red. I’m putting a piece of my soul out there, no matter how small, and that opens the avenue for judgment/criticism. It’s not an easy thing to do.
Inspiration for this poem: The inspiration for Orphans came from someone I care about very much. We were lovers in our twenties for about a year or so before I moved to California, at which point our lives took different paths and we were out of touch for a while. In that time, we both grew up, got married, and had families. We reconnected a year or so ago and got to know each other again, but this time as old friends. He and I had very similar, negative experiences early on in our lives, which shaped us in certain ways. It’s something that we never really talked about when we were lovers, but something we just sort of recognized in each other, intuitively. Approaching our friendship now as adults allowed us to be more open in talking about those things. The understanding we have for each other is the kind of thing you can only share with someone who has been through similar traumatic events. We have a shared darkness and the Orphans in the poem are the childhoods we never got to have. Or maybe it would just be better to describe our childhoods as tainted rather than non-existent. I do have happy childhood memories. This poem takes you through our story, how we met, the instant connection we shared, the dark times that we experienced as kids, the way those experiences affect us throughout our lives, influences our choices. It comes full circle to describe how he came to own his piece of my soul and a special place in my heart. He knows me in a way that most other people never will. One of the few people I am comfortable sharing that darkness with, because he’s been there – he knows it, understands it. It’s not something that most people can handle. And because of that he is one of those people who will always be a part of me.
Techniques/ideas/thoughts during writing: My writing is pretty random. The only time I ever sat down with a particular topic I intended to write about or had a plan was when I had an assignment for school. I’ll have a thought or an idea or sometimes even just a word or simple phrase and I’ll build a poem around it. Some of my poems, like Orphans, are about just one person. Then there are other poems that have little bits and pieces of different people throughout them. Tattoo poem, for example, is a compilation of different people I’ve known. I really love words and turning a phrase. Sometimes I will build a whole poem around just one word. I text myself lines here and there throughout the day. I’ll be at work or at home, and something will just pop into my head and I’ll text it to myself and then I’ll sit and write down all of the things i’ve texted to myself in a notebook. Maybe it becomes a poem or maybe it becomes three. Sometimes it becomes nothing. Other times, I’ll have a concept that I want to build a poem around. For example, I’ve been working on a poem called L’Appel du Vide. It’s French term that translates to “call of the void.” It describes the phenomenon of totally sane, non-suicidal people feeling the urge to jump from a cliff or edge into the cavern of the unknown. I think love is a lot like that – you can stay, perched safely on the ledge or you can jump. I think that most of the time, we jump even though the other person stays on the ledge. When I share what I write I want my readers to grab my hand and jump with me.
Bio: A poet since age 11, Margie Curcio was born and raised in Staten Island, New York. At age 25 she moved to Santa Cruz, California where studied creative writing at Cabrillo College. Upon her return to New York in 2003, she continued her study of creative writing at NYU. Margie’s publications to date include: “Press of Tangled Bodies” (Porter Gulch Review 2003), “Tattoo Po-em” (Porter Gulch Review 2013), “Javits” and “Flame-Licked” (Porter Gulch Review 2014), “Gravity,” “And…,” “Autumn Leaves,” “Eleven / 13 / Eighty-Six,” and “Flame-Licked” (Sixfold, Poetry Winter 2014), and “On A Sunday,” “I Fell In Love With The Baker’s Son,” “Orphans,” and “And…” (Porter Gulch Review 2015). Porter Gulch Review editions are available on line at http://www.cabrillo.edu/publications/portergulch/. Sixfold Editions are available on line at https://www.sixfold.org/issues.html. Her poem “Burned By The Moon” won an Honorable Men-tion Prize in the 2002 Santa Cruz County Fair’s Poetry Division. Margie is currently working on her second poetry collection, which she hopes to publish in the next year. Margie can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright for the above poem and image remains the sole property of Margie Curcio.