“Exploring the Basement,” oil on canvas, by Stephanie Deshpande, 2014.

Animal Channel

Sprawled out you
watch the sloth’s story,
how it had to decide,

over millennia, to find
more food or move
as little as possible,

not so much lazy as
evolving, turning green,
the only mammal able

to match rainforest leaves.
Man & sloth must face
Adversity, whatever

form it takes, an eagle
circling, a woman bent
over a sink of knives.


You ask me, then
space out as I explain
the long & short
of the vowel “I.”

Ha un sapore strano,
you say, chewing bread
I stood in line, paid
too much for, how

much, never mind,
which tastes, you claim,
like cinnamon. It blows
tonight, more than

a breeze, less than
the kind that gives
us chills, a change of
season we can stand.

Between my index
finger & thumb,
your old Omega’s
gold crown turns.

Porco Mondo

Fighting we drop
our sweet hybrid
of Roman & Brooklyn,

litigando on the phone.
When not in Rome,
my Saxon syntax tears

your Latin logic limb
from limb, or would,
if you were listening,

not cursing my ancestors,
porco dio, porco mio,
come on home.


Hilary Sideris is the author of Most Likely to Die and The Inclination to Make Waves. She lives in Brooklyn and works for The City University of New York. She has a B.A. in English literature from Indiana University and an MFA from the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop.