Gainful After heroin, my year as a bellhop, arms reliable as hotel chlorine.

It makes me regal, the uniform that smothers my tracks – rivets dotting a wearable Sucret.

Funny how I meander from one strap to another. Puller, porter, the narrower the elevator, the more its buttons consume, Braille’s pyramid built one cable at a time.

I mention this to the night manager, some indentured shuttle dialer surveying our empire of the defused, a magnet for red-eyes and rebounders alike.

The lobby’s humidity, ambrosia with a blown gasket.

A month in I tell my caseworker Pam – always the monosyllables I’m assigned, a heroin omen: this salvage, wasted tarnish – “There are those who tip you with crisp money, money so crisp you hear the Lincoln Memorial crinkling at your jacket’s first frost,

and those who tip you in singles the color of dredged mint, stray dimes swimming the maid’s mop water."

“And withdrawal?” she asks.

I tell her it’s a lunch cancelled by fax, a sprinkler’s typography trickling the water cooler’s drought, stationery handwriting so faint you mistake it for a specter’s scratch.

After heroin: the suitcase of sock holes. Convention-goers and carts. The 4 a.m. checkout king. May his fawning numb you the opposite of corrosion.


Dear Identity Thief,

The house is a hemorrhage and three hampers –

dirty, clean, in case

I mistake the cardigan for an EMT.

These walls sound like applause. We were in the same place,

guest towels on the right, the ratio of thumbs to thread count measured in molding. The deliveryman knows my initials at least.

You’ll need a backhoe for the quirks – hindsight the valium of this spoon-burner’s pouch. Euphoria under the hum.

Family might call, may stumble over obligation like a can of quick-drying paint. Keep the estrangement up-to-date.

People will drop the H into our name, the carnival grab of it spackled between the O and the N –

landlords, Tucsonans with better rates.

Crumble till you’re me.

Our backstory effaced,

identity the oleander’s lathe.


Logo to Market - Manistee, Michigan

Something about their water tower terrifies you. More than lupus and psychosis combined. The fluorine maraca of it.

The world’s tallest man died here.

Robert Wadlow – highway pinstripes, back brace of munitions, scoliosis in the conning towers of his shoulders.

Behemoth, scrapped in a town of Elks lodges and Poles.

Oleson’s Grocery hoists the argon bull, its horns dowsing thirst,

Main Street foaming just fine.


Jon Riccio studied viola performance at Oberlin College and the Cleveland Institute of Music. An MFA candidate at the University of Arizona, he is a recipient of the UA Foundation Poetry Award. Current and forthcoming work appears in Bird’s Thumb, Plenitude, Blast Furnace, Your Impossible Voice, Four Chambers, Small Po[r]tions, Paper Nautilus, and Petrichor Review. He is a coordinator of the Tucson-based WIP Reading Series.