Sophia Cannizzarro

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liquor as substitute for loving mother

he called me a bitch in front of a room full of people,
who i called my friends, most of whom i see on the street
every few days and i say / hey what's up / and they say
/ not much / 

sometimes his name happens and it feels like the punches
he threw at walls and the slap he threw at my face,
that one time, thank god i left before it was twice. 

codependency is a strange word because it implies mutuality.
there is nothing mutual about abuse. it only took six months
for me to feel like i never happened. like i was some transparent
paper doll, torn by the wind when he played with me
during a hurricane. he said / i love you / and / i need you / 
and / let's move in together / and / if i got you pregnant then
maybe i'd have a reason to get my shit together /
and that night i hoped to god i'd have his baby

when he asked me for a second chance i told him, not unless 
he stops drinking, and he said this assertive version of me
was quite attractive and that i'd given him a lot to think about
and the next time i saw him, plastered, of course, he asked
to be friends and i asked, were we ever friends? not out loud
of course. 

sometimes someone's potential feels adequate. my fingers
have always been laced through a fantasy future, in which
i ease my mother from her sadness and love my father 
into serenity. maybe you'd call it a savior complex, or codependent,
to choose someone so thoroughly alone with himself. 
a desire for purpose, perhaps. 

it is love. it is, wanting to make the world a safe place. 
it is, needing to give people what they need because i never got it. 
i love him into my littlest toenail. and if it would help
i would rip that little shit off and make him tea out of it
and let him drink it. i swear to god. if it would help
i would give him any part of myself, and i did.

it didn't help. he sits in the same bedroom, in the same house,
drinking the same goddamn jameson, smoking the same
stolen cigarettes, stolen from some other younger girl who thinks
/ i am special enough to change him / 

you cannot give him what he needs. cannot help him. he is stuck
in a time before time, the most sinister ouroboros i've ever seen.
chewing and chewing and chasing and chasing his own tail,
hoping it will become his mother and he can devour her whole.
it won't, of course, but you will. you will become his mother,
in the best sense possible, you will give him everything a person
could possibly need, and it will threaten him. it will scare him,
a proposal of trust. a proposal of safety. the potential for these things
will scare him more than the lack of them. and he will call you a bitch
and punch holes in the wall and slap your beautiful face because love
will always, always threaten him. 


losing home for a moment reminds me what it means
to belong to the streets of a place.
seeing the same eyes every day, how y'all doin'? 
how you doin'? how you doin'? alright, alright.
numerous ways to greet a stranger, all with
the same words. when we go back
to empty the fridge and check on the house,
i drive down royal street. the hotel has a generator,
clearly, since fifteen people have parked themselves outside
to drink their beers and collect their free groceries
and feel a little air conditioning in the 90 degrees. 
the night of the storm, we were determined to stay. 
stocked up on ice and sodas and chicken cooked by the mama. 
power goes out. we go to talking. 
reading online. category 3, category 4, 
then, worst storm since '85. drive to alabama. 
had quit smoking, but, a much needed cigarette at a gas station
in mississippi. everyone knows where we're from. 
arrive at the hotel to a sea of louisiana license plates. 
meet the owners of a bar that i was at just the week before
in the bywater. everything feels like a song,
played on a guitar missing a string.
we sit by the best western pool, drinking high life and wine,
i play my fiddle and we all miss home together. 
i think about what it must be like, to move across the world,
or to lose your house to disaster, to be in such a liminal state
permanently. to be nowhere you belong. we get manicures
in alabama while the power stays off in new orleans, 
people die. my nails look great. everybody wants to know
if our houses are ok, if we are ok, how we got here,
how we'll get back, etc. i mean, everybody. we're the excitement
of the week in this tiny town of demopolis, AL. 
back home there's one gator dead in a dumpster and one
dragging a man out of his house, never seen again, this is
all my grandma wants to talk about. now,
a month later, sitting in my house, complaining
that my air conditioning has broken. 

all contained.

we're too limited in our definitions of creativity. 
sleep is creative; breathing makes CO2, dreams
make our change, balance our cash safes
so we're set up for tomorrow.

yes, i am creatively stuck. blockaded, even.
but that doesn't mean i am not constantly contributing. 
my motion is part of the neverending
indistinct motion of every      single  thing!

my mind, not as special as i might think,
for the most part, it is constantly rebuilding itself.
always road work season inside my skull,
potholes getting filled and familiar streets
getting fresh faced and painted with new guidance.

neurons are inherently creative of life,
and also created,
like all things.

friends who die, die and create, 
and are still alive in my own brain.

finn would have graduated high school today.
he'd be drinking a beer to celebrate right now.
instead, he's dead and i'm writing a poem
to celebrate his now hypothetical existence. and also mine,
and yours.


Sophia Cannizzaro is a perpetual student from Vermont, now living in New Orleans. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in The Wild Word, Isacoustic*, Monstering Magazine, Dialogist, and Metatron Press. She is a full-time artist in that she fills as much of her time with art as she can, doesn't really get paid for it, and therefore works several odd jobs to pay for things. Her favorite website is and she can be found at or on Instagram @sophia.luci.cannizzaro.