Christian Sammartino

Kingdom of Vanishing

Stay at the theme park late enough to watch
workers flip of the million beaming bulbs
on the carousels and the roller coasters.

Sit in your car as every face masquerades
in darkness, when there is only a crowd in communion
and no one to claim the paper crown. 

Reflections cease to shine on car hoods
and parking lot puddles of Coca-Cola.
Superheroes remove long capes of shadow. 

Carnival music from the carousels abdicates
resonance, replaced by a wordless anthem, 
with lyrics I forgot I knew by heart. 

Light I cannot name immerges from the crowd,
whispers out into the world, embraces all life—
suddenly, we are all one body, infinite bliss. 

Faceless royalty, monarchy of none,
rule by the people, unified by joy, 
strangers holding hands in the streets. 

Love is not an extraterrestrial myth
hovering above the cruelty of earth—
we are love; we are here to heal everything. 

Headlights awaken—the moment scatters
like millions of embers extinguishing, 
flickering into a space beyond touch. 

Where did all the light migrate after the switch?
God, did it refract into the place my childhood
hid after the ache began to gnaw my marrow? 

Wonder threatens to escape me like a puncture
in the neck of a balloon animal. I apply pressure
to the wound and repeat small mercies. 

The light vanishes from me faster than my
hands can jut up into the air to snatch it back,
but the thrill of the search propels me forward. 

After the Rapture

This is the kind of night we'd break
into the mall parking garage and stargaze
constellations from the rooftop, 

because they explode like fireworks, 
burning more brilliantly then our fear, 
even as they die light-years away. 

I can smell the good weed on your jacket,
see you blowing smoke in the eyes of security
cameras so guards can't see your face.

Witnessing our breath leave our bodies
rapidly freezing and thawing, tempting
impermanence, reminds us we are still alive.

You and I aren't all closed casket memories
and eulogies yet—we can see all the roads
ranning out of town into the body of the world.

You watch the traffic lights flash green,
swearing they will be more than quiet
signals to your graveyard shift soul.

One day you will cruise beneath their spotlight,
full tank of gas, heart pumping one-way wanderlust, 
flip off our hometown in the rear view mirror. 

Where did you go after the gaslighting?
Did you shed your skin into a dumpster until
there was nothing left to collect?

You owned the shape of your disappearance, 
like fog evaporating from a windshield, 
the most precious gift since your hospital blanket. 

I'm talking to myself again, like this tin can
telephone has the signal to reach your ears, 
if only to say all the lights in town are green.

I miss you, my blood, my sister.
drive with the wind in your hair, drive until
you are the stranger, until you are visible.

George Bailey Lassos The Moon For Me

After asking what kind of miracle it would take
to keep me from vacating this earth, what I need
tonight to make sure I see the New Year. 

George loops the rope around my waist,
hoists me up above the waterline so I can't
quietly sneak beneath the oblivion of the surface.

He uses the moon as a counterweight to keep
me from drowning in the lake, anchors me
so I don't drift into the next world. 

George throws me a life preserver
I don’t want tonight—the note is written.
My pockets are weighted with fist sized stones

I am ready to sink like the titanic, flood
my lungs with ice water, reverse brain function
until I reach bottom of the Atlantic black. 

But George knows how to save a life.
Believes that survival is not just for pretend
or reserved for movie stars and big screens.

All of the church bells in town toll
the hour and a chorus of angels with new wings
joins George in his tug-of-war. 

He brings me back from the dead
like Jesus breathed life back into Lazarus.

George calls everyone I love,
tells them I'm alive—he has all the right
words for what happened when I don’t.

He says I'll be on my way home soon.
Everyone will get the chance to hug me.
Yes, he will wait with me until they arrive.

And he holds my hand by the water
as the moon drifts above us like a guardian. 
I know I’m not alone, I know I’m safe.

I love you George—my friend, my savior.
Thank you for restoring wonder to my world
and life to my body when I couldn't accept either.

Christian Sammartino is the Editor-In-Chief of 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, Sea Foam Mag, Lehigh Valley Vanguard, 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.