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Fall '23

PENELOPE IAONNOU

I

There are superfluous things and then there are
volcanos. The pumpkin risotto is cooling in the
pot and a purple rash ascends rapidly over the
left side of your neck. I hope we can agree
certain conversations can only end in a kiss.
I want big things, a huge oven, a marriage, a professional
walking stick for my hike towards the summit.
Only from sadness did rock emerge, that squalid
place above the stomach where water, smacking and
mining the walls, slows down, and a particle of
self-loathing indivisible from sadness
heats up then folds then opens into a mountain range.
What am I here for. Is it time to wrap these gifts.

The bell is ringing, the floor of the volcano is
cooling, this is the season of the pumpkin,
the summit edges nearer to me, purple smell
of purple minerals, craters in a rice bowl. I am
standing in front of my huge oven and I am thinking
back to this moment of me saying please this pain
must come to something.

II

It takes the sun 8 minutes and 20 seconds to reach us.
It’s long, I know, it’s too long.


The hole through the mountain is like a nostril and
Louise Glück died today.


The verbal magnitude of those we leave behind
roars like a boat engine in the night but


the air works hard to needle coolness into the warmth.
Here bioluminescence is ordinary, a disturbed electrical


condition of the atmosphere, Darwin called it. The speedboat
farms the water, now greenish under the 8 minutes and 20


seconds it took for the light to make it green. I think places should be
defined by their not having a volcano. If you don’t like me,


forgive me: there is little I can do sat on this speedboat racing
through the fat night. At the edge of my suffering there is a

little auditorium of women who cry and sip cocktails. Roar if
you have ever lost something. It can be your passport, your toe,


your packet of coke and if you don’t like me, understand that I was
raised on an island and islands are raised with the sole purpose to please.


The moon wears the night like a sock and Glück would have liked this boat.
Down this gaping nostril, we will find a field of wild irises,
green cheap sarongs, a box labeled lost and found.

III

The purple rash now tamed by the antibiotics
imitates a soft outline of a mountain range on your neck.
A purple black cloud of fumes leaves a stencil on the
sky behind it and rain darts downwards, homesick
for the ground. The gifts are wrapped and
on my way to deep sleep, I am panicking:


what is this coming at me with foglights
where is this albatross going
what is this rescue team trying to save
who can I tell about the joy of the slope in your neck.

 

 

 

 


 

Penelope Ioannou is a poet and writer from Cyprus. Some of her favourite things include islands, Shakespeare, and spaghetti. Having recently graduated from Oxford and very uncertain of what comes next, she writes poems about it and occasionally publishes art and book reviews.

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