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

Cortese Pic

Lucy wraps salmon

around her fingers, plucks the pink flesh with her teeth. She must wash each hand seven times. She must throw the empty box of wild Alaskan salmon in a bag, wrap it in red, blue, and yellow ribbons. She presses the Reddi-wip nozzle till her mouth fills with sugary relief. Walking down the sidewalk, Lucy waves hello to no one, counts how long the light stays green. Reaching 20 seconds means her mother dies in a plane crash. The sky, with its white pelts, its glittering lid, is always with her. In her sleep, a man binds her wrists and tulip trees unpucker their lips in the wind.

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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