By: Elliot DelSignore

i have my father’s temper, my father’s eyes.

i keep my bloody birthrights in a clear glass jar.

all the things i’ve laid claim to with my mother’s fingers;

long, pale, five on each hand, like real people have.

                                                                                        my great grandparents fought, back in italy,

                                                                                        stained roman streets red with discontent,

                                                                                        loved each other with separate bedrooms.

                                                                                        the genotype of heartbreak runs far back.

i froze to death when i was nine years old,

screaming with my mother’s pale throat.

drowned when i was seven, in the atlantic.

ripped my father’s broken vocal cords right out.

                                                                                        nana’s soulmate sleeps easy with the angels

                                                                                        but their love died in divorce court long ago.

                                                                                        they wanted each other for little things;

                                                                                        my nana’s heart, my grandfather’s wallet.

i held hands with a beautiful boy, winter-cold,

with a face like a sunset and eyes like home.

he fell in love with me for my father’s cheekbones.

i wept my mother’s bitter tears when i left him.

                                                                                        i’ll mail you my ripped-out heart for $30;

                                                                                        flat-rate, international, customs checked.

                                                                                        i ripped it out with my father’s knife.

                                                                                        if you taste the dried blood, you’ll know.