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