Basil

My mother kills basil.
Too much water.
Sodden roots.
Flooded.

But my basil survives.
No, it thrives.
Urban herb.
Persistent.

Care instructions: gut instinct.
Inch of water.
Mist leaves.
Sun.

To retrieve: clip bottom.
To slice: chiffonade.
DON’T RIP.
Fragrant.

Drop in Sunday gravy.
Ribbon atop pasta.
Drizzle balsamic.
Caprese.

Neurotic checks of soil.
Is it moist?
Or dry?
Repeat.

“How does it feel?”
“A walking stereotype,”
You joke.
“Nurturing?”

Something to care for.
Mothering living things.
Being childless.
Pet-less.

But I don’t agree.
It’s self care.
Or compulsion.
Control.

I’ll keep it alive.
There’s no alternative.
Committed now.
Principles.

Who am I kidding?
It’s entrenched behavior.
To kill.
Drown.

I’ll rip the leaves.
The dying ones.
For comfort.
Mine.

I’ve ripped the leaves.
Can’t bear decay.
Not mine.
Yours.

© 2022 Andrea Festa

Retrospect

I resent the Spring
in all its pastel.

In all its pastiche
of a life now untouchable.

Of a life jelly beaned and jelly sandaled,
not one where hand soap is triggering.

Not one where memory is archived as
“on this day” trauma, but

“on this day” thirteen years ago,
I was skinny just because.

I was skinny last year
on account of simply not eating.

On account of why eat
what you can’t?

What you can’t do, I can’t do.
When you suffer, I suffer, too.

When you suffer April Fools’ gladly,
like the fickle month it was,

like the fickle purgatory that was your lungs
while the green teens had a spring in their step,

while the green pub crawlers strode mob deep
outside your window like missed opportunities,

outside your window with the decal shamrock
like you were a child, doesn’t that bother you?

Like you were only fentanyl fever-dreaming
and I was only Xanax not-dreaming.

And I was thinking today
that retrospect is a needling bitch,

that retrospect is unsolicited wisdom.
It taunts you in measures of time.

It taunts you like Spring does
with its good for nothing rose-colored glasses.

With its good for running air
that led me to the intersection tonight,

that led me back to you.
You, who is breathing from the open window.

You, who is.
And, therefore, I am also.

© 2022 Andrea Festa

Happy Baby

Flesh, pink.
Not bubblegum, but
Winter White

frosting.
Two drops red, accidental
baby shower.

Fat, pink
toes.
Fascia of the feet.

First to
wiggle.
Voluntary.

Free.
Look! Baby is
kicking,

flexing.
Dumb,
happy baby.

Foot to
sky,
foot to mouth.

Fingers
navigate
metatarsals.

Find crystals
buried
in the ball.

Flush, pink
to white
and back,

fun with
bodily
autonomy

fostered for
months
in the womb.

Fascinating,
really.
How the

fine lines of the
hand
cannot

forge
a path for the
foot, but will

foretell
in tally marks
how many dumb

fucking
babies
you’ll have, ones that

fought
to be
born.

Fools.
I’m one of them.
But I swear, I’m happy,

baby.

© 2021 Andrea Festa

Stray

A stoop is a stoop
to rest your new chunky heels,
even when no one cares
to notice them.
Even when the restaurant it belonged to
(where you both enjoyed
lambics and lobster once)
is papered in the windows.
Even when its cement is pockmarked
and narrow
and familiar,
but you’re sans a warm Hurricane
on a warmer summer night.
Even when you tip your feet
to the crescent moon
like a bored child,
not because they hurt
(for the first time)
but because you wish to slouch,
to recoil yourself invisible
in the black and amber lamplight
from the group of gentrifiers
sashaying the crosswalk in clean clothes
cut from caddyshack daddies
and Main Line mommies.

A backseat is a backseat
to rest your new beaded necklace
and beaded back sweat,
even when you know the Uber driver
won’t abduct you
and your textured forehead,
even though you’re now skinny,
just in time for the end
of hot girl summer.
Even when no pleasantries
(the ones you used to hate)
are exchanged,
and you take it personally.
Even when he pulls over too early,
and you object,
and he reminds you,
“The street is closed.”
Even when the corner
of 15th and Sansom
is stagnant sewer steam
and sad sidewalk day drunks
turned to night drunks.

A bar stool is a bar stool
to rest your new corduroy skirt,
even when it reeks of urine.
Even though they replaced
the women’s toilet with something
tacky and pearly and plasticky,
but your thighs
were anticipating “the usual”
stained,
but sturdy ceramic.
Even when you forget “the usual”
drink order (yours,
or his.)
Even when you order one more of this new
usual,
and you know the guy next to you
won’t drop something in your drink,
but you and your aging hand
cover it anyway.
Even when your friend doesn’t show
and you have work in the morning –
work you’re not prepared for –
and you forget how to commute,
which buses to which
subway cars to which
new overpriced lunchfare,
now that “the usual” is gone.

A front porch is a front porch,
even when a cat
chose to lay down and die
on it this afternoon,
its mouth agape,
teeth gnarled,
tabby fur flattened,
fooling the family into thinking
it was the family cat.
Even when after the panic,
it was a false alarm:
“It’s just the stray, everyone!”
Even though it did look eerily similar,
but different,
an unshakable alternate reality
where it just wanted to rest
its newly old head
somewhere it could call home.

© 2021 Andrea Festa

Centripetal

If the mass (m.) of 1 cart in an indoor Himalayan ride containing 2 lovers is approximately 350 pounds of happy weight and traveling at the velocity (v.) of the kind of life that comes with dual expendable income and no kids – and those lovers sit as close to the center of the ride as they were from almost coming out the other side of a global pandemic unscathed (the radius (r.)), what is the centripetal force (Fc)? For how long will the force keep their bodies tangled together at the cushiony inward point?

Now, say the nameless and faceless ride operator yanks the lever into reverse at a nauseating halt. How fast does the centrifugal force (F.) send them flailing into the sharp metal bars on the false exit doors opposite them? At which point is the moment of inertia (I.): when the change of direction occurs, or everything that follows?

Please remember to weigh the following external factors when calculating your equation:

How many other people are on this ride and what is their total weight? Does each cart carry that weight respectively, or collectively as a whole?

Using the formula for momentum (p.), explain how the ride is able to maintain top speed as a steadfast, dizzying orbital center, even after the ride is over. Is it because the lovers caught a drift off the coattails of whoever is in front of them? Or is it the other way around? Who’s spearheading this backdraft of love and loss and grief?

Were the seat buckles, as suspected, a false sense of security all this time? And why don’t these exit doors open?

Is it blinding dark in there, save for the strobe lights that shadow the lovers’ facial angles glitchy and unrecognizable, a foreboding guised as fun? Is this fun?

Explain why centripetal force is real and centrifugal force is fake, and how the lovers can’t distinguish the difference.

© 2021 Andrea Festa

Median

“It’s all about balance,”
they say.
The ever elusive THEY.

Who are THEY?
Do they swallow corrections
to improprieties?

Maintain status quos?
Keep even-keels?
Cushy in the center, complicit.

Do they adhere to
“opposites attract”?
Zodiac wheel confirmations that

this is right,
this is equal,
this makes sense.

Are they hedonists
Wednesday through
Monday?

Money spent,
money replenished,
no harm, no foul.

Do they work hard,
play hard
(but only when it’s deserved),

and never think,
this could very well
kill me
?

But still, you bike off some calories.
Sleep off some wine.
Unclench, clench.

Do they go halfsies, splitsies?
A buoy bobbing between
shallow and deep, a

median.

Have they tried yoga and all its
upward and downward
currents of energy?

Two forces in
opposition?
Ebb, flow, carry on.

Do they resent non-functioning outlets,
male
and female

prongs
just a little
off-kilter? Bent?

Do they weigh daily
life’s taketh
and giveth,

risks,
rewards,
safers than sorries?

Does aimless floating
like either end of a ladder toss
terrify them?

Me, personally?
I’d rather be
tethered,

a tightly wound resistance band, a
medium
connecting

your hand to
your other hand,
happy to be useful.

And yet,
I could snap.


© 2020 Andrea Festa

Molting

Its shell allows the lobster to grow in a constant state of infinite metamorphosis, adapting by needling its plumpness into every salty nook and cranny of armor like polycarbonate, both in simultaneous protection and prison, until, at last, it shatters the proverbial ceiling and wriggles free its naked, ancient body out into the sea’s thousand icy cold leagues, forgetting its cells will inevitably regenerate a shiny new casing. In this way, the lobster theoretically cannot die, its past, present, and future life already predetermined, evolving, molting and rebuilding in an eternal flat circle of time, unless predator or man finally, mercifully comes along and severs it.

© 2020 Andrea Festa

There Are Two Kinds Of Love

There are two kinds of love.

Friends turned lovers.
Lovers turned lifers.

There are two kinds of love.

Mutual back rubs
from pretend boys.

There are two kinds of love.

Freckles, bangs, blue tongue.
Asthmatic laughs.

There are two kinds of love.

Heteronormativity,
but make it gauche.

There are two kinds of love.

Frozen hot chocolate
with real boys.

There are two kinds of love.

The one where I see the cuts,
the steamy mirror glances.

There are two kinds of love.

The one where instead
I write it in a Post Secret.

There are two kinds of love.

One you choose
and one you don’t.

There are two kinds of love.

But you can’t have your cake
and eat it, too.


© 2020 Andrea Festa

Unattainable

As featured on Ephemeral Elegies

My father stood beside the wilted orange tiger lilies
on the side of our house. So small and fragile
compared to the grand spectacle in the sky.
A meteor shower, a celestial trajectory of cosmic
debris. Thousands, bright and fast, cascaded
from the infinite galaxy to Earth.
Earth, where my father and I stood, awestruck.
I squinted to take it all in, despite my poor vision.
“You’ll never see this again in your lifetime,” he said.
His voice was ominous, echoing off the siding.

I fought to find the features of his face in the dark, grasping
the unattainable, like catching a shooting star in a jar for keepsake.


© 2020 Andrea Festa

Omniscience

“So the Greeks won’t kill.”
That was the answer,
scribbled in black

on a piece of parchment
unfurled at the foot
of my bed. A cryptic

message from some
omnipotent power
whom I prayed to

asking the reason for an
out of body experience,
an astral projection.

Mystic transcendence
to realms inside drywall
for months on end.

I should modify the prayer
to better suit my beliefs,
Metaphysics over the Messiah,

if you will. So forgive me
father, for I have sinned.
It has been twenty years

since my last confession.
I accuse myself
of many a mortal sin.

In the name of the Father,
the Son,
and the Holy Spirit–

Of deep sleep and rapid
eye movement.
Murmuring vibration.

In the name of keen
awareness and a third eye.
Being naked in the sheets.

Of air molecules that hang
fuzzy and champagne
golden from the ceiling.

In the name of moon walking
over kitchen linoleum,
bouncing and hovering

through curtains,
through glass,
through brick city walls.

In the name of plunging
into Caribbean depths.
Ferocious eels, slick,

calling. In the name of
not knowing my location
in the universe,

which plane of existence
I stand on. In the name of
a fragile spirit

attached by fibrous
airwaves to my skin,
frightened of never returning.

In the name of vicious
mattress thrashing and trying
to harness the soul back to body

Praise be to God, or something like it.

Amen.


© 2020 Andrea Festa