Sneak Peek: Nick Gettino


Damask will soon release its second project, a broadside of Jacob Russell’s reflection on infinity “Chronic, Chronos, Kairos” printed by Allegra Fisher. To celebrate Damask will host a reading this Friday 11/4 at 7pm at the Moonstone Arts Center in Philadelphia featuring four wonderful poets: Nick Gettino, Courtney Bambrick, JenMarie Davis and Jacob Russell himself. We invite you to join us for the reading or to watch the live stream from the comfort of your own home. We also encourage you to purchase a copy of Russell’s broadside here.

For the next four days leading up to the event, we will be featuring bios and sample work from our four readers here on our website. First up: young poet and scholar Nick Gettino!

Gettino is a junior at Swarthmore College. He’s been a first reader for Saturnalia Books’ annual poetry prize and has interned at Tupelo Press. Last April, he was featured in The Philadelphia Inquirer’s spread of “Philadelphia Poets Under 30.” Take a read through his slender domestic diptych “Family Dinners” and the skulking “Zoo”*

Family Dinners
1. Man in a tie & black pants
after a photograph by CBC News
The wind has opened the door
& it’s become a job to ignore the power lines
swinging too close to the white siding.

Leaves skitter across the hardwoods
toward the table in the back of the room.

I’m pretending that this house is mine—
that I’m used to eating in this chair.

Margaret sits at the other side of the table
with her arms crossed. Elbows off
the table, I joke as she stares at a china plate.

I remember when I understood this:
how I picked what walls would have windows
& wrote NEW LOCK on a to-do list.

There’s something to be said
for kitchen wallpaper laced
with fruit—the quiet citrus-language
it begins whispering at 6 o’clock…

You’re right: these are distractions.

I can hear the cables
fraying now, now loud enough
to be in the kitchen.

2. Woman in a floral dress & apron
after Norman Rockwell

There’s never been enough room for me
to set dinner on the table—
white lace & a sterling saltshaker
are important right now. The winding
arms of kids, reaching for the grapes
I arranged as garnish.

Words like want are beginning to make sense
& how they don’t apply.

There’s a lesson in my clothes:
the worn-through pattern,
like lattice-work, etched on blue cotton.

I think I’d match the wallpaper
if my body wasn’t in relief
against my husband’s black suit.

The tigers in the grass moved like oil
slicking over the ground. Silent
through the glass display, they hung their spines
down near the dirt. They were alone in the cage—
not fed until later on Saturdays—
but you could see the hunt in their eyes.
The glass was strung up so wide and tall,
I thought that I could lower myself into the neon sling
of the tiger’s back. Lean in & pull fur or a sloppy muzzle
into my balled-up fingers.
It broke—the glass, I mean—the tigers coiled
through the crowd, loose & horrific,
working their jaws with yawns
& unaware of the thick veins
contouring their own limbs.

It didn’t actually happen
but I touched the window & asked a volunteer
about the taped-over cracks
like a snarl of hair in the glass.
If it could engorge me: tangle me through the loom
of its body: would I even have time to consider the risk
of each part I want?
Imagine you’re Mr. Buwalda, reclining on the terrace
of the Jungle Café when the Siberian starts to knead
his paws on the grass.

They claim he was irresponsible & child-loving. That he saw the animal
poised across the yard.

What would you say in the whorl of needles & shoulder blades?

NOTE: In the 4rd section, the second and third lines, starting, “Consider the risk…” are borrowed from D. A. Powell’s “[19 lines],” found in Cocktails(Graywolf Press, 2004); in the 5thsection, language is borrowed from Quan Barry’s “the Great Molasses Flood of 1919 as allegory,” found in Controvertibles (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2004).

* Poems reprinted from The Philadelphia Inquirer.

UP NEXT: Courtney Bambrick!

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