Featured Poet: Joseph Lezza

From "Up in the Air" by Margaret Wiss / In Parentheses Literary Magazine / Fall 2020 / Volume 6 Issue 2

Joseph Lezza is a writer in New York who holds and MFA in Creative Writing from The University of Texas at El Paso. His work has recently appeared in West Trade Review, Pointed Circle and Stoneboat Literary Journal. His website is www.josephlezza.com and you can follow him on the socials @lezzdoothis

Selections from these poems have been included in the IP Print (Volume 6, Issue 2).


The Drake Hotel and an itch
to scratch. The kitchen closed
but the city delivers. Choices
wash across post-flight eyes
and, with the twitch of a finger,
I order him like takeout.
Your item is on its way.

(Wolfgang) Puck on the dresser
swallowing “marmalade,” selling sweets
to spoil my appetite. But,
this fairy is already up
to mischief, searing on a midsummer
night sidewalk, dreaming of delivery
until he rounds the corner.

Shirts, shorts, socks, like plastic wrap, litter
the floor in our exhaust, still warm.
The spread laid out, I sample first
a thigh, a rib, a finger.
Barely done chewing before gnashing
into the next salty morsel,
coming up for air long enough
for dinner to bite back.

On my right, what’s left
is a picnic, strewn across
saturated sheets. He cools
in the hum of recycled air. The moon
leering through the window,
dips behind my chest as it crests
and falls. But, let it
watch, that voyeur in the sky. Bathe
in blue envy with sticky satisfaction.

A full feeling, not always
fulfilling in the pulp
of fresh, squeezed morning.


What you’re watching now
is an unusually cold day
in Florida. Huddled crowds, cloaked.
Counting down, looking up
as fire and ice slash into the sky.
Bewildered audience, hopeful spectators.
Present looking at past, knowing the future.
This is raw, unedited video.
What you’re watching now
are parents and students
Missing school but minding teacher.
Out sick with a case of go fever;
airborne pathogen and nationwide epidemic.
Once you know you have it,
it’s already too late.
Roger, go at throttle up.
What you’re watching now
is the result of widespread erosion;
an execution in both scientific practice
and biological finality. Framed in flame
and formatted to fit your TV screen.
What it must have been like, poised
in the grandstands, looking to heaven
but seeing only hell.
Far too early. Far too big an explosion.
What you’re watching now
is five seconds of reverie, quickly melting
into quiet perplexity. Hands freeze
mid-clap, heads tilt and shoulders
stiffen. The sonic boom knocks
the earth off of its axis and the world,
for a moment, releases its gravitational pull.
Obviously a major malfunction.
What you’re watching now
is a mother and a father,
Grace and Ed Corrigan; two pillars
of salt amidst raining sulfur.
But, there’s no sin in staring today.
Not when looking away means surrender.
So, follow their gaze back to the
smoky rip in the atmosphere
that’s starting to leak.

What you’re watching now
is a camera furiously sweeping
the crowds with glaring desperation;
The vehicle has exploded.
a searchlight during a prison escape.
Must find Mom and Dad.
Must get that money shot.
That sweet, sweet grief
viewers can wash down with their morning
coffee. But, Grace and Ed know
they’re being watched, clutching

their coats and concealing whispers.
…see what can be done at this point.
The conversation lost in a thunderstorm
of people pounding off the bleachers.

What you’re watching now
is a eulogy before the funeral.
In the center of the fire and the smoke…
Footage of tears and distorted expressions
to the tune of reporters, careful
in their choice of tense, rolling
off names, positions, accomplishments as
their owners trickle across the wild
blue like a raindrop on a windshield.
…can’t see any form…
He is, she does, they are.
In the ocean.
…what was once the shuttle.
Perhaps it’s appropriate.
They say some of the personal
air packs had been activated. They say
Dick Scobee “flew that ship without wings.”
They say the black box recorded Michael Smith
after that last transmission.
We had an interview with him
back in July. Let’s play that.


Zip…past the feet, Bobby’s feet
Those Twyla sharp feet that turned
the Stonewall floors into kindling
every night. Now brittle, bruised
and burnt out.

Zip…past the knees, Michael’s knees
Those knobby laurels always caked
with Central Park mud. Soccer stud.
Trunks that withered to roots, soft
mountainscapes in soiled linen.

Zip…past the hips, Justin’s hips
Pins that would make any go-go boy
green, but which wrapped me in warmth
that freezing Chelsea winter. Warmth
that went cold with the springtime thaw.

Zip…past the navel, Palmer’s navel
The Kansas boy with a stomach as soft
as prairie grass, rising and falling and spilling
its secrets to me in the dark. Secrets
soon replaced by blood and bile.

Zip…past the lungs, Devon’s lungs
Lungs that roared La Traviata
at the stars and swam in the fountain
at Lincoln Center. But there’s no stroke
to save you from drowning in your own fluid.

Zip…past the lips, Stephen’s lips
Strawberry life preservers that kissed
a lost boy found. The same boy who sobbed
and searched for those same lips, swallowed
in a swollen, chapped sea of sarcoma.

Zip…past the hair, Patrick’s hair
Auburn locks that veiled sheepish eyes.
The thick mane that always smelled of Irish
Spring now fell out in iodoform-scented
clumps I saved and pressed into “Fear and Loathing.”

Zip…one by one they bagged you
in thick, black plastic. Party leftovers too
guilty to discard but obligated
to take home.

One by one, you slipped
out the back while music still
played until morning broke
and I saw what was left.


From the Editor:

We hope that readers receive In Parentheses as a medium through which the evolution of human thought can be appreciated, nurtured and precipitated. It will present a dynamo of artistic expression, journalism, informal analysis of our daily world, entertainment of ideas considered lofty and criticism of today’s popular culture. The featured content does not follow any specific ideology except for that of intellectual expansion of the masses.

Founded in late 2011, In Parentheses prides itself upon analysis of the current condition of intelligence in the minds of these young people, and building a hypothesis for one looming question: what comes after Post-Modernism?

The idea for this magazine stems from a simple conversation regarding the aforementioned question, which drew out the need to identify our generation’s place in literary history.

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