The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Claudia Cortese’s “Blood Medals”

Cortese Pic

Lucy tells the boy to suck

till her arm pockmarks, that if he stops she’ll expose what happens at playground’s edge. Back home, Lucy decks the tree in Barbie heads, watches snow cut the landscape, all those little white knives. She leaves a hill of Jujubes where her mother’s ant traps should be. Lucy loves the carmine glory of her arm, the blood medals of a champion! She calls Milo to her, bites his fur till the roots let go. His yelps shine like sequins, the way snow is sequins, and her arms. Lucy demands Santa stitch her a skin of bees, that her screams be not sound but solid: a stinger that stings and stings.

This selection comes from Claudia Cortese’s chapbook Blood Medals, available from Thrush Poetry Press. Purchase your copy here!

Claudia Cortese has two chapbooks: Blood Medals (Thrush Poetry Press, 2015) and The Red Essay and Other Histories (forthcoming from Horse Less Press, 2015). Her poems and lyric essays have found homes at Black Warrior Review, Blackbird, Crazyhorse, Kenyon Review Online, and Sixth Finch, among others. Cortese lives in New Jersey and is the poetry editor for Swarm (

A recipient of a 2015 NEA Fellowship for poetry, grants from the Barbara Deming Memorial Fund and the Kentucky Foundation for Women, Staci R. Schoenfeld’s poems appear in or are forthcoming from Washington Square, Mid-American Review, North Dakota Quarterly, Muzzle, and Southern Humanities Review, among others. She is a PhD student at the University of South Dakota.


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