Two Poems / by John Surico

I Don't Know What To Call This Feeling             

the pretending, trying
to choose between the polka

dot dress or the graphic
t-shirt for Thanksgiving dinner back

at your mother’s. She knows
you by now, the division between Ken  

dolls and Barbies, or how you dyed your fingers
green by accident when you were sneaking

around in her food
coloring, stashed next to the flour on the top

shelf of the cupboard above the sink. She made you
soak your hands in a bucket

of soap with a white sock. You’ll learn
your lesson once the sock is green

too, just like your fingers, and the water
a galactic color, foaming at the lip. 

You stayed there ‘til you
pruned and your brown skin, 

phantom. You could blink
and make the color of your palms disappear, the pink 

now a white creased thing, dense as if  you could pull
away the layers and still find more hand 

to peel. You could have lied and said the food coloring
just fell from the shelf and spat 

unto your skin. Seems biblical
how it settles into a place

between your ribs like a cough, quiet
at first but then catches on, not different 

from when the girl at the bar gave you
her number and you thought

about your mother, what she would say
if she found out that you smiled  

like a boy
would have, and it made sense 

like a sock in a bucket, green
and abandoned after a blame.





Water For Cities

In which language does rain fall over tormented cities?
—Pablo Neruda

In New York, the sky drips in English, glazing
the buildings in its syllables, 
pronouncing words with each downpour. The J
train at Broadway and Myrtle is late again. 
I stand in the fog of tongues, little licks of breath, whispers
only half of my brain understands.

I remember my first kiss in an English rain, leaning
up against the neighbor’s red pickup truck, 
August heat washing over our teenage bodies, running
down my inner thigh, the bulge of his arm. I fell
into his weight and stayed, his mouth
moving towards mine, 
his lips, water, the taste of the faucet
in a cup, city pipes you weren’t supposed to drink from.

The rain has fallen in Spanish sometimes, 
in cities far away from here. Little tildes
and accent marks dropping to the ground
in the chants my grandmother would sing:
Parece que va a llover,
Y el cielo se está nublando—

her long nailed fingers raised to the sky
in celebration. She’d wink and hand me an umbrella, 
even though the sun was out. 
Her songs were always right. 
Parece que va a llover.
¡Ay mamá me estoy mojando!

There are sayings about Spain
and how rain falls on the plains, or la lluvia
en Sevilla es una maravilla. I used to know
this rain, how the Spanish kissed my bare chest, 
words at a time as it fell, the night
at the beach, my bathing suit top dangling
on my wrist. The weather spoke out something endearing, 
maybe it was guapa or chula, piropos from the sky, 
the air smelling of thunder and burned incense. 

The train to Manhattan finally reaches the platform
and I sit nestled between strangers
and the squeak of their coats. Together
we are swallowed into the dark tunnels, 
where the rain has fallen
speechless, slight murmurs, or maybe it’s the sounds
of an unknown dialect, my ears
unable to recognize the water for the words.





Diannely Antigua is a Dominican-American poet and MFA candidate at NYU. Her work has been published and is forthcoming in several literary magazines, including the Offering, Parnassus, BOAAT PRESS, and Rust + Moth. Her favorite flavor of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream is Chubby Hubby. She lives in Brooklyn with three poet roommates.