Jennifer Martelli

After JFK's Assassination, (Kitty Genovese Was Murdered) Things Got Really Bad

Why are you writing about her?

                   Kitty puts things in order for me, things I thought I’d forgotten:

Do you miss those things? 
            
                   all the earth tones. I try to describe the color of blood: copper and
                   baked red, my front steps, bricks, terra cotta. Kitty Genovese was
                   menstruating that night, the Kotex was held in place with the garter straps,
                   how my mother showed me. It was in his way but 

How does Kitty order things?

                   she was not his first. He burnt the first one: lit a chiffon scarf on fire and
                   stuck it up there inside of her. He made sure he burnt her there and no one
                   knew who did this to poor Annie Mae Johnson because she was black,
                   and Kitty was white. He burnt the first one before she was even
                   dead. My mother

Do you miss your mother? What she told you?

                   said she would lose her mind if me or my sisters died
                   before she did, told me never to talk that way but I feared she
                   would die before me. I feared it and she did die before me. She had
                   a turban: sheer ecru that only showed her black window’s peak
                   she wore it to be dressy and when she’d come home it smelled like
                   menthol Trues. Kitty’s mother’s heart was broken. She couldn’t
                   walk down the aisle in the church past the people in the wooden
                   pews. She wasn’t told about her daughter’s deflated lungs or how he
                   flung the Kotex to the corner of the vestibule. She wouldn’t ever go
                   back to Queens not even for the ’64 World’s Fair. But I feel like I 

 
How does Kitty order things?

                   remember the big TVs in Almy’s Department Store, two whole aisles of
                   RCAs built into wooden consoles and the antennae like antlers and
                   everybody was silent or crying. One woman said we’re glued here we’re
                   glued to the TV. They said they killed the President because he was
                   catholic. My mother held my hand. I didn’t know what that meant. I was
                   afraid, my mother was crying. We went home and she made me sit on the
                   terra cotta front steps of our new ranch home. She gave me
                   something sweet and cold. My mother

 

Why are you writing about her?
            
                   looked beautiful in her chiffon turban. 

                   She had a tin ashtray from the ’64 World’s Fair in Queens.

                   I saw a burnt out building with Kitty’s face 
                   spray painted on the old baked brick. Block words
                   circled her like a halo: what is true? who will tell?

Jennifer Martelli

Jennifer Martelli’s debut poetry collection, The Uncanny Valley, was published in 2016 by Big Table Publishing Company. She is also the author of the chapbook Apostrophe (Big Table), and the chapbook After Bird (Grey Book Press). Her work has appeared in Thrush, [Pank], Glass Poetry Journal, The Heavy Feather Review, and Tinderbox Poetry Journal. Jennifer has been nominated for Pushcart and Best of the Net Prizes and is the recipient of the Massachusetts Cultural Council Grant in Poetry. She is a book reviewer for Up the Staircase Quarterly, as well as a co-curator for The Mom Egg VOX Blog Folio

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