The American Journal of Poetry
"Strong Rx Medicine"®


JC Reilly



In Venice, writers seem to congregate in every square, ubiquitous as the pigeons—and nearly as well-received by the locals. They crowd the bistros, their notebooks spread over shiny metal tables, artfully placed libri di poesia beside their half-drunk caffè and overflowing ashtrays. A cliché in any country. Sneering, the camerieri will wander past the writers’ tables, and ask, “Vuoi un altro?” (but hope they say no). The writers wave them on, focused as they are on il momento della creazione! You share the waiters’ scorn. If there’s one thing you can’t stand, it’s scrittori pretenziosi. You have known too many writers too much in love with the writerly life not to disdain them. (Like yourself, you think with a sigh.) Ecco l'ipocrita! Tucked in a bag on the bench beside you: a Murano glass pen and vial of ink waiting to deflower the leather notebook you found in La Toletta (to your American ears, an unfortunately named bookstore, though you think it means “the dressing table”). But today, as you cherish the gelato alla ciliegia from Gelateria Paolin across the Campo Santo Stefano from you, words are second to the bliss of black cherries and cream, the hint of amaretto swirling in a bowl in your hands. Later you will write a poem about how the ice cream lingered on your tongue. Sweet, growing warmer and liquid, the way you remember your body grew under your lover’s tongue when he lingered on your nipples the first time you made love. That afternoon he called you “my cherry” instead of “ma chérie.” You did not mind he did not speak French well. He was only twenty, and trying to impress you. But then you remember all poems are lies, and writers are the worst kind of liars. This scrittrice more than most.




JC REILLY writes across genres and has received Pushcart and Wigleaf nominations for her work. She serves as the Managing Editor of the Atlanta Review and has pieces published or forthcoming in PoetrySouth, POEM, West Texas Literary Review, Picaroon Poetry, Hawai'i Pacific Review, Glassworks Magazine, and borrowed solace. When she isn't writing, she plays tennis or works on improving her Italian.



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