Zoe Trischka

Vico Santa Caterina a Formiello

Streets obscured by fingerprints on glasses never washed. Watch the

masses pass with steely gazes, with elegance. Everything stores sell lotto,

dolls, condoms, and cornicelli. Preteens on motorini, nonnas on balconi.

Balconi spill speaker songs of neomelodica, of rap, Int’o Rione. Traffic

builds deep in the burrows of Forcella. Sunday ragu fumes simmer on the

stove. Settimanali soar in the air. White plastic chairs. Elderly gentlemen

recline in line, glue their eyes to the female curve. Crooked storefront

steps. Cigarettes in hand. Men in alleys sell contraband. Saints adorn

corners, protect powers behind glass shells, jewels for sale. No nonsense

nuns plow down Toledo, leather pocketbooks, bibles in tow. White loads of

laundry float like clouds, beat arm rails to the bone. O dottò parks cars in

Via Carbonara. Craters in the hardened lava. Shards of ocean shine

through a kitchen window. Boys glow blue in sala giochi screens.

Creme-colored buildings become a dark gray. Secret-saying nciucesse

strut by crushes, smack gum like it’s their job. Hot bods in miniskirts. Sweet

heat from bakeries. The breeze of Margellina, salty on the tongue. Silk

dresses grace the sidewalk, wade like angels. Young couples drape each

other in love words. Si a vita mij. Tattooed guagliù cin cin until the sun

sends them home. Fireworks bling bling – for a birthday, a wedding, a bail.

Young men on motorini race, they fly. Women with strollers, they get out

the way. Niccolò and I flick cigarette butts into Via Santa Sofia, Wait at the

seventh story and watch them descend, Follow the amber specks until they

meet their end. 


Ma e figl tuj son propr nir.
Your daughters are really black.

Nunziata let go
of her babies’ dark fingers
and lashed her arms like whips
against the curling body of her neighbor.
If words were thrown, they didn’t matter.
Azzurra + Roberta,
tiny in their tiny blue dresses,
elegant dresses,

Not a twist of their Mary Janes or
blink of their eyes
which were transfixed on their mother.
Their mother
who only moments ago was
teaching them rhymes +
pinching their cheeks.
Their mother
whose nails were now jabbed
into their neighbor’s neck.
Whose hair had come undone.
Whose pantyhose had runs.
Witnesses rushed to their balconi, to their doors.
Alliances flew to each woman,
ripping them apart like rags.
Azzurra + Roberta
were dragged away by Nonna Ninetta.
She pressed their deep brown cheeks
into her thighs,
and gave them each a glass of milk.
Their mother returned bruised.


Zoe Trischka is Jersey-born, second-generation Italian-American who is constantly documenting personal and familial anecdotes, often set in Napoli or Italo-america. Her passions range wide, from writing to photography to music to documentary film — her current line of work. During her undergrad at NYU, Zoe spent three semesters in Italy, which allowed her to reconnect with her napulitan’ family and write articles for Rolling Stone Italia about the campana rap scene.