“Redstar” by Carl Napolitano

We reunited in Tampa at the Red Star
Rock Bar. Your hands were rough
to my touch, dried and cracked
to droughtland by West Texas winds.

I could see inside of you
through the cracks, the red
of you peeking out at me
in slivers. It made me worry.

You need a pair of red leather gloves,
I joked. Imagine how stylish you’d be.
Imagine your red hands on my body,
tight around my neck as you fucked me.

Imagine: a red star is the coolest
of all stars, burning softly at a mere
4000 degrees. And yet this is still a heat
we cannot endure—not with these bodies.

We’d burn to nothing.


When you pinned my body down
with your body, I said I need you,
meaning right then, hard and hungry,
but also always, in my soft, warm guts.

I won’t lie, I cried after you
left. Two days will never be
enough; I missed you even
when you were there.

Oh, my preemptive heart—it loves you
even before I can say I love you. It is
so prepared to love you, it might as well be
a Boy Scout of Love—its uniform firetruck
red, its brass compass with its red-tipped needle
pointing straight to you, and its merit badges in
the shape of valentine hearts, a whole sash
of them so long it unfurls into outer space,
to the sun.


Let me reel it back in.

Let me slip into something more subtle—this
maroon sweatshirt, these burgundy running shorts.

See how casual I can be
in my affection for you?

But what I really want is this:

A ball gown made of rose silk, buoyed
by layers of pink tulle, with crimson ribbons
tied into puckering bows on my ass, my nipples, oh!
and scarlet velvet gloves up to my shoulders as if
I had reached down deep into a pool of warm blood and
pulled out a baby but the baby was you
and my lips were hot as a chili pepper, bright
as a barn at sunrise, and lithe like the fox I am
and I kissed you on the forehead, leaving
the redstar mark of my mouth
burning on your peachy skin.


What I really want is you
peeling all this opulence
off of me, down to my skin,
then deeper and deeper.

I do wonder—when you look inside of me
what do you see?

Don’t tell me. I just want to see
it’s glow on your face.


Carl Napolitano is a writer and ceramicist from Little Rock, Arkansas. He holds a BA in English-Creative Writing and Studio Art from Hendrix College and is currently working toward his MFA in fiction at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. His work has appeared in Assaracus, The Hunger, The Molotov Cocktail, and The Rumpus. He is an associate editor for Sibling Rivalry Press.