The concrete slab of our front porch
became a runway for me to strut new
summer hand-me-down fashions.
A black garbage bag was my wardrobe,
providing a bigger bounty of outfits
than the clearance rack at K-Mart.
This was the largest collection of clothes
destined for my body, bigger than the selection
my mother stashed on layaway for my birthday.
I cycled through constant costume changes,
parading across the gray stage like a model,
displaying new designs by brand names.
This was my New York Fashion Week,
an opportunity to embody new identities
by incarnating them for the public.
My neighbors clapped from their garages
as I rocked the retro sun-bleached Phillies
championship t-shirt for the first time.
July sunshine glinted off car windshields
like a collection of flashing camera bulbs.
Every piece of fabric became new
when I debuted it for the world
on the catwalk in my front yard.
I celebrated my success with friends
by wearing a Power Rangers t-shirt
and running through sprinklers,
as our parents became backyard paparazzi,
immortalizing the moment on disposable cameras.
FIRST MEMORY OF CHILDHOOD
My mother walks up the stairs ahead of me,
bearing the burden of brown paper grocery bags
she hefted here from the bus station.
I follow on the steps behind her with my sack
full of necessities—every book I own is slung
over my shoulder in a bag covered with dinosaurs.
I carry the brightly colored volumes,
like a paleontologist transporting new skeletons
in hopes of correctly assembling their bones.
While my mother shopped, I read in the cart,
unveiling the anatomy of my first language.
On the public bus, I poured over the pages,
like the crew that discovered the first Tyrannosaurus,
puzzling the arrangement of the pieces in my head.
The straps cut into my shoulder,
giving me a shiner, my first bruise,
purple as the plums in my mother’s bags.
I wobble under the weight of so many books,
straining to evenly distribute my cargo
across my young shoulders.
Just as my mother looks back at me,
the bulk drags my body backwards
down the staircase we climbed together.
I tumble down a pair of flights—
my arms smack against the linoleum steps,
my legs ricochet off the metal banisters.
The strap of my bag snags around a railing.
I stop somersaulting, and slam into a post.
My library in a sack stops me from falling
Through a child-sized opening beneath
the main railing—suspends me in the air
four flights above the vestibule floor.
My history books save me from extinction,
unlike all of my favorite dinosaurs.
CHRISTIAN SAMMARTINO is the Editor-In-Chief of The Rising Phoenix Review and the Poetry Editor for L'Éphémère Review. He is currently studying Philosophy at West Chester University. His poetry is influenced by life in the Pennsylvania Rustbelt near his hometown of Coatesville. His work has appeared in Words Dance Publishing, Voicemail Poems, Lehigh Valley Vanguard, Thirteen Myna Birds, Sea Foam Mag, and Yellow Chair Review. Sammartino was a Resident Poet for Lehigh Valley Vanguard during the summer of 2015. His first chapbook, Keystones, was released by Rising Phoenix Press in December 2014.