Gianni Gaudino: You Are Practically Dead

Gianni Gaudino: You Are Practically Dead

The people who live above me flick their cigarettes onto my drying clothes


I always spill the milk,

wipe it, drops hem the tile floor

No matter, this house is stupid

We’ve had ants building homes

under the sink Armies of ants

plotting to conquest  

Ants in my bed Ants in the bathtub

Ants in my watermelon

In the morning I wake to ants marching

God I am such a millennial

I go to work as an adjunct 

smoke a cigarette in traffic

then to the restaurant

and when I get there

my boss yells, fuck you!  

I’m still learning how to use emojis

I only use the happy and sad faces

which are the only two emotions

I’m aware of except these ants

If I were brave I’d text my landlord

the ant emoji, four angry faces,

and a bomb He probably wouldn’t

respond, come with his exterminator mask

and poison gun My drains are clogged

They’ve been since day one

and my window’s missing

a slab of wood so the cold comes in

God I am such a millennial

One day I’ll grow muscles

One day I’ll wear a mask

One day I’ll call you out God

I hate you landlord Please, snow,

I love you just stay outside


Facing the Redwood


In the tutoring center

you ask fellow tutors to stop


stereotyping, stop talking

about incest and dildos


and they fight you.

You’re a tutor too.


But you are a nobody.

You are weak.


When people look at you,

they see a flimsy branch.


Kids pick you up and swing you

across the lawn.


Adults use you to taunt

the neighbor’s cat.


You are practically dead.

Your coworkers laugh at you,


and you say “okay,” you say

“People are trying to learn.


This is a forest of learning

and someone’s canoe has tipped


in the creek, bunnies hop,

convoluting syntax, soup cans


and wrappers bramble the ground

and some kids are lighting a mattress


on fire.” You want to say,

“I am chock full of what you need.”


Some folks like to wash others mouths

with soap. A heart is just a metaphor


for a brain, and cats are not

cowards, obviously. They wouldn’t


climb to the tops of Redwoods.

Maybe you are a cat, too, and people


like to poke your fangs.

People like to pull your whiskers


when you’re mad and they shouldn’t

but you’re a cute cat–your pipsqueak


roar, your perpetual bean paws.

You should mew and Cat Kong


that Redwood. The collar around

your neck is just a collar.


Gianni Gaudino’s poems appear in Muzzle Magazine, Public Pool, Whirlwind Magazine, and among others. He’s a 7th and 8th grade creative writing teacher for the School District of Philadelphia and lives in South Philly.