“Petrarch Looks for Laura at Holiday World” by Stephen Harvey

Stephen Harvey


High noon and ninety-nine in Santa Claus,
Indiana. Before I start to melt, I spot 
some sorry bastard sweating off his balls
in costume. Ho-ho-ho-ly shit, it’s hot!
I whisper when the kids can’t hear—he’s not 
amused. I take the rickety applause
of wooden roller coasters that slingshot 
my pain-in-the-ass nephews through bendy straws
of rotten lumber. I gorge on Dippin’ Dots
and look for you in crowds even now because
that’s what I do. Dusk. Santa blows a snot
rocket in the shrubs, abandons his post.
I’ve totally gotten over you almost.

from Rattle #63, Spring 2019
Tribute to Persona Poems


Stephen Harvey: “As a formalist, I’ve always been intrigued with Petrarch but can’t quite stomach the mushiness of the Canzoniere which, some critics argue, is written in persona. I borrowed his concept a couple years ago, using Laura as a stand-in for whatever longing I can’t come to terms with. It took a little tinkering, but soon I discovered the voice of a modernized Petrarch bumbling through brothels, the White House, and other disreputable establishments. The hard part now is getting him to shut up.”

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