Thursday Mar 30

CafagnaMarcus Marcus Cafagña is the author of The Broken World, a National Poetry Series selection, and Roman Fever. His poems and critical reviews have appeared in The American Poetry Review, Ploughshares, Poets of the New Century, Poetry, Prairie Schooner, and The Southern Review. He teaches poetry writing and coordinates the creative writing program at Missouri State University.

Honeymoon Hotel

Instead of tearing off our clothes in the shimmer
of the Hotel Diana’s satin sheets, we check out.

Roman streets that fall are scorching hot, full
of pickpockets and to our surprise
public masturbators. Once renowned

for pinching American women, Italian men
thrust out their hips. On the bus,
behind Dianne, a young Lothario unzips

and stains her black crepe de chine
skirt. Instead of marble
walls and fresh cut narcissus,

the pensioni Porta Maggiore rooms
come with a fan that blows
flakes of rust in our eyes. The iron

edges of twin beds pushed together dig
into our flesh no matter what
position we try. Instead
of a Roman tub, the tin can shower backs up,
a flood she has to wade through.

If there are sights, we can’t see without
cursing the country my grandfather
came from. Trevi Fountain’s romantic shimmering

make us daydream of the satin sheets
in which we could’ve tumbled
into dawn.


Trying only to trim my pubic hair with cuticle
scissors, I sliced a flap
of scrotum skin. No washcloth or styptic
pressed to the quarter-inch sac-wound
could stem the blood; I showed Jenn
what a fool I’d been. Our anniversary fizzled
in one stupid move. A night away
from our new baby was supposed to mean
just us, not us in line behind
the drunk, the bruised, and homeless. We broke
a beam of light to pass
through the E.R.’s automatic doors, past
a security guard’s worried face. In triage,
I stripped and sat
as ordered on a gurney, but couldn’t
tie the gown in back. The male nurse,
catching me exposed, brushed my pecker aside,
and palmed my sac in a gloved hand.
Nuts, he laughed.
I’d have smiled too, if my jewels weren’t
awaiting cauterization by a sizzling
nitrate stick. Like any prisoner,
I knew what I had done
was loco. After they let me go, the thought
of ever going back a repeat
offender, made me sick, gutted
by the color-coded bracelet on my wrist.