Poetry by Hilary Sideris

Camus Updates

I remember printing 

memos out, reading 

for typos in a fake 

English accent before 

I dared hit send

the caffeinated thrill 

of catching slips 

in the fluorescent 

light of an office. 

This morning’s first 

agenda item is Camus

updates. No Freudian 

banter via Zoom. 

Campus, the tired 

teachers assume. 

Fossa Comune

I don’t know! 42! 48!

comes through the wall,

the neighbor’s daughter

doing math, not getting it,

flinging her book. On Hart 

Island they bury, I mean we 

do, bodies in a common, 

mass, or, as we once said, 

paupers’ grave. My husband’s 

stunned. I am ashamed. 

He didn’t know. It never

came up. Incredibile, 

questo paese! he says 

to other outraged  

Italians on the phone, 

fossa comune! 

Bike Room 

I curse the unknown owner 

of the vintage Schwin with no 

kickstand I find, every time,

leaning on my Giant Rincon 

in the far corner where poison 

pellets pile. Under one pedal 

a mouse baby decomposes, 

so small it has no smell. 

I roll my mountain trail 

tires past wagon, tandem, 

trike, the sturdy brown Raleigh 

three-speed of our super Esad, 

who just had his fourth child. 

His wife wears a hijab 

and says hi back when I, 

in my black mask, say hi.

Mortacci Loro

If, as you saute 

onions, you curse 

your enemies & 

all their ancestors—

mortacci loro, their 

fucking dead ones—

don’t let my Anglo 

monosyllables fool 

you. Sometimes I rip 

my dry-cleaned dress 

from its sealed 

plastic, hiss 

pezzo di merda 

at no one in 

the house. 


My husband won’t go 

out. E’ bello fuori,

I say. Si, l’ho letto

he says, meaning he’s read 

the weather’s nice. Once

he joined me on walks. 

We disagreed. He liked 

the streets of ninety-nine-

cent shops. I loved the fat

old sycamores of Stratford, 

Albemarle. At his desk 

he ponders such questions 

as how far droplets fall 

in open air from those 

who don’t wear masks. 

About the contributor

Hilary Sideris has recently published poems in The American Journal of Poetry, Bellevue Literary Review, Free State Review, Gravel, The Lake, Main Street Rag, Rhino, Salamander, and Southern Poetry Review. Her most recent book is The Silent B (2019 Dos Madres Press). She lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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