Three Poems by Hilary Sideris

Hilary

I was a sullen child.
They called me Hil or Hill.
I never minded. English
spelling has no rules. I wasn’t
joyful, glad in Latin,

propitious in Greek. My brother
bit under my shirt, where Mom
was too worn out to look.
I don’t blame him, ass-kicked
in turn. We talk about it now—

our wrecked Gran Prix, the fires
we set in garbage cans. I live
with my medieval handle,
popular for males in Chichester
& Arles, with grace if not

exhilaration when addressed as
Mrs. Clinton, Sir Edmond, Miss
Lizzie McGuire. I age my way
into hilarity, become a woman
whose husband says Ilaria, Ili.

*

Claude

When I spilled milk
or dropped my fork, Dad called
me clod! from the Old English
cluda clump of earth, mound,
mass, meaning chump or dunce.
I spelled poorly & heard Claude,

a boy I liked, who got held back
& whacked at school, whose name
I wrote in my notebook. It means
cripple I later read—a lame attempt,
perhaps, to appease God in times
when children often died.

I had a heavy crush on lanky Claude,
his broad hillbilly vowels when
he kidded, Hey, Hill, working hard?
Hardly working? as I wiped down
the sticky Dairy Queen counter
he tossed a dollar on.

*

Margaret

When Italy was unified,
the Savoy queen inspired
la margherita pizza—
red, white, green,
newfangled like the flag.

In My Big Fat Greek
Wedding mortifying mothers
dance & sing of palikaria
men who bring home
kalimaria, margaretaria

fruit & jewels from the sea,
which explains why
when I tell my brother’s bride
her name means daisy,
she says pearl.

*

Hilary Sideris’s poems have appeared in recent issues of The American Journal of Poetry, Barrow Street, Bellevue Literary Review, One Art, Poetry Daily, Rhino, Room, Salamander, and Sixth Finch, among others. She is the author most recently of Un Amore Veloce (Kelsay Books 2019), The Silent B (Dos Madres Press 2019), and Animals in English, poems after Temple Grandin (Dos Madres Press 2020).

Two Poems by Hilary Sideris

Dust

Night comes faster in September
when the bank is on the phone
& I’m explaining again how

my New York Sports Club closed,
how I stopped leaving home, how hard
I tried to end my membership.

By now I’m yelling across the world
at an associate who says I understand,
so sorry to hear, like all HSBC

associates before & after her. In sleep
I grind my teeth to fine powder,
dreaming of bodies in the towers,

pulverized as each floor fell
on the one below. I watch it all
crumble on hold while

my associate contacts Disputes,
the narrow downtown streets,
survivors fleeing like ghosts

through clouds, even the leggy
mannequins in Wall Street
shops hip deep in it.

*

Cuddlebuddy

You tested positive:
we live in separate rooms.

My mother emails shit
about her OurTime date

who wants a cuddlebuddy.
Sprawled on the damp

loveseat with brain fog,
you take calls from Scam

Likely, watch a spotted
ocelot catch river rats, say

It’s unfair, you get the bed,
but you have the remote.

*

Hilary Sideris’s poems have appeared in recent issues of The American Journal of Poetry, Barrow Street, Bellevue Literary Review, Free State Review, Poetry Daily, Rhino, Room, Salamander, and Sixth Finch, among others. She is the author most recently of Un Amore Veloce (Kelsay Books 2019), The Silent B (Dos Madres Press 2019), and Animals in English, poems after Temple Grandin (Dos Madres Press 2020).