- First Grade
All the kids were saying ugly things.Ejected space debris: clusters of smallneedles, defunct satellites, venus fly
traps. Sure—I had buckteeth, overbite,gaps. A dental Stonehenge—no chain-linkfence to keep out unwanted visitors,
unnecessary damage, too-hard rubbing,itching, crumbling. But I could spell likea motherfucker. When I won the spelling
bee, Paul (Anti-hero) told me I'd wonthe Super Bowl, got all the other kidsto join in, laugh, slap my back. Paul had 9
siblings, 1 twin, 1 good Catholic family.I used to try to say the Rosary like hismother did, while he stole other kids'
lunches. I wanted Jesus to be mine, getme things I wanted, make me goodat football, fix my teeth. I watched her,
a woman with eyes shut, mouth twitchingprayers, fingers flitting bead, bead, bead,Our Father, Hail Mary. An electric-fenced
dog barks at passing strangers. A girllooks at the rosary in her mother's room& only sees a necklace. [End Page 4]
Jesse Damiani's poetry has been published or is forthcoming in 42opus, elimae, the minnesota review, and Ninth Letter, among others. He is the recipient of the John Mackay Shaw Academy of American Poets Award and will be seeking his MFA in poetry at the University of Wisconsin–Madison beginning in fall 2011.