Issue No. 15, Winter 2015

Ischia
Nancy Iannucci

The mind is its own place, and in itself, can make heaven of Hell,
and a hell of Heaven. – John Milton

Drifting through Italy’s
cobblestone streets,
he faced Ischia again
in a small, shadowy café.

She coiled his tongue
like ivy slipping
down his throat faster
than he could inhale.
The delicacy of her taste
at a moment of compulsion
debilitated his godliness.
She was volcanic and
made him feel mortal.

The café lights went dim.
“Damn, could it be this long into the night?
Please, just one more,” he begged then promised.
“Just one and I swear I’ll be over you.”
Ischia offered her flavor to his lips
not once, but three times over.
She maddened his mind
over and above the exotic
maenad hangers-on
he tasted in Neapolitan cafés
night after night;
they flocked to him,
followed
him
more than they pursued Adonis,
even the married ones, but
he failed to notice them.

So they left for the water
and threw their thyrsi into the sea.
Saltwater splashed back onto their soft,
livid lips as they vowed never to speak
to him again; they grew weary of his
cyclical temperament.

Lost under Mount Epomeo’s vineyard slopes,
they rolled under sheets of green-
Ischia fed him her grapes one by one
in the sweltering Mediterranean sun.

His beard grew homeless;
his nails extended like raven’s claws.
He caged Ischia to his chest so tightly
she burst between his covetous grip,
spraying shards of her glass skin through the air
cutting his wrists with deep lacerations.

“What have I done; why
am I bleeding?” He groaned,
as he lay quiescent linked to vines
that dripped life back into his body.

He couldn’t remember.

Merciful maenads returned
to their Bacchus like devoted
disciples; they surrounded his bed
trusting their seductive smiles
and Revlon-blackened eyes
possessed the charm to convert him.

“I am done with her,” he avowed
as he did many times before resting
his hand on his chest as if to pledge
allegiance to his promise this time.

His claws reached above his left nipple
to scratch an itch over an ornately inscribed
tattoo injected ten years ago:
“Clear my head
Stay sober
The soul controller.”
He read these words like Braille
and sighed pensively to the gods,
“Why have I lost the power to control her? I lay buried
like Typhon under her grip.”


Nancy Iannucci is a historian who teaches history and lives poetry in Troy, NY. She has always been entranced by the mysticism of life and the fine line that exists between our world and the mystical. She feels, at times, like she inhabits some place in the middle and expresses herself through writing trying to reconcile her own existence in between these two realms; her work has been published by Performance Poets Association, Three Line Poetry, Red Wolf Journal, Faerie Magazine (FB photography), and she also has work forthcoming in Mirror Dance. She is currently working on her first chapbook. ​