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Poetry

Linoleum By Stelios Mormoris

Linoleum | By Stelios Mormoris

It is clear we all need flooring
in our lives–something to keep
our traction with a modicum
of decorum and alacrity from
one appointment to the next,    
from the procession of infant to
child to man, far surer firmament
than skipping on the lily pads
of strangers to lovers to friends
with not enough time to sink.

I approach this corridor of old
linoleum with mild trepidation, 
as if it were an oil slick, easy 
to slip in its black fluorescence. 
Brazen ship, I slip into it anyway: 
the linoleum recomposed from 
some malleable matter like wax 
or asphalt, remnant of liquid,
puréed, re-formed, jaundiced
with age, hardened by lack of use.

I notice the linoleum is sweating.
It feels indecent to traverse it
as if someone dead is pressed
inside its board. I lift one corner.
The underside looks baked like 
dried brown mascara, the top side
black with bits of mustard, matching 
our old fridge, abused and familiar.
I swear my mother is still breathing
through it, and touch the beads

of lanolin seething through its 
pliant surface, then lift to my face
the tacky moisture, and smell the
putrid summer when we cried
with her on a set of swings, 
away in the Catskill mountains
and drowned in her sermons,  
four fatherless young children
gathering milkweed and thistle
on the shoulder of the interstate.

Even an acrid bouquet was a gift,
and she wept. Even a window open
and hearing a chorus of girls 
carry across the valley like puffs
of dandelion blown loose excited 
her as I picked the stiff white seeds
caught in her sweater. Even the 
footsteps of her son pressing
tentatively the vulnerable skin
to summon her out of her oculus

keeps her alive–as the priest would
say–like lights of candles passed
from the altar to the altar boys 
to the congregation. I decide to lie
down in the cradle of curling tile
to hear the pulse in my ear,
and set alight the crickets that
dry summer night when I heard 
her crying alone in a rented cabin,
to my delight, and to my peril.

About the Author:

Native of Boston and Martha’s Vineyard, MA., Stelios Mormoris is currently the C.E.O. of, EDGE BEAUTY, Inc..  Dual citizen of Greece and the U.S. and raised in New York, Stelios has spent most of his life living in Paris.  He received his undergraduate degree in architecture at Princeton and a M.B.A. from INSEAD in Paris. 

Stelios is a contemporary artist, specializing in abstract geometric oil painting [www.steliosmormoris.com].  Stelios was part of the Creative Writing Program at Princeton, as a student of William Meredith and later studied at Columbia with Stanley Kunitz, as well as with Nancy Schoenberger from the Academy of American Poets.  

He has published work in The Fourth River, Gargoyle, Humana Obscura, Midwest Poetry Review, the Nassau Literary Review, PRESS, South Road, Spillway, Sugar House Review, VERSE, The Whelk Walk Review and other literary journals.   

Stelios has held positions on the Boards of the French Cultural Center of Boston, Historic New England, The Fragrance Foundation, Symrise, ACT UP, and is a member of the Kytherian Society.