Fort Red Border

Fort Red Border

Sarabande Books
88 pages
Trim: 9 x 6
Paper ISBN: 978-1-932511-74-1

Kiki Petrosino, Professor of Poetry
University of Virginia

Kiki Petrosino has audacity to spare. She devotes the entire first section of her debut collection of poems to a putative affair the speaker is conducting with an imaginary Robert Redford. In the poems, Redford is solicitous of the speaker, as well as curious about her “difference,” probing her about the various meanings of “natural” when applied to her African-American hair. The poems’ hilarity and poignancy issue from the speaker’s distance from, and yearning toward, the center of mainstream culture. Redford serves as ideal partner, the embodiment of American masculinity––but there is also an odd tenderness and actuality to the relationship. In these poems Petrosino is fearless, proceeding from the recognizable terrain of daily life’s emotions rather than seeking refuge in the cool of mere obscurity. Petrosino’s poems scout a new path, one that discovers a believably fierce, vivid, feeling self.


God has spider skin and lives in secret trees. I have stood beside you, saying this, as you reach into the cupboard for another stack of dry noodles. You eat them with the dead still on, with the sticky deadness still on, because you always throw out the foil package of seasoning. So the noodle brick just loosens, slowly, in a flat brine of city water, just squats and spreads in the center of the frying pan like a washed-up boxer or a stranger’s face disappearing into morphine. After the fight the boxer wraps a towel around his hips and walks into his manager’s office. Some boys wipe fifty bucks’ worth of sweat from the ring, then head to the all-night diner smelling like stacks of thumbs. Meanwhile, dollars bills are blooming in the stranger’s lonely raincoat pocket. It is 5:00 a.m. There are places you will never go with me, no matter how many times you ask, or how hard you eat.

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