Ross Losapio


Six hundred non-native species made an Eden
of the Colosseum at its peak. Yonkers—1960

—kids call my father Negro at the public pools;
his olive pit skin, his mother cinching down

his pants at restaurants, showing a gash of pale
cheek to the hostess before they can be seated.

Blood-soaked sands fertile for creeping
crowfoot, dwarf mallow, wild cherry, and chickweed

cradled in the bowels of Indian aurochs, lions
poached from Morocco, and prisoners of war.

Two generations later, my neighbors say
I look Spanish. In Spain, they say maybe

Mexican. In Rome, the labyrinthine
hypogeum blossomed with tigers and lilies,

sweet-scented clematis and the elephant
dung that bore its seeds to Italy. Over a dinner

of boiled eggs and sardines, salumi and bread,
less pasta than I expect and no red sauce,

my host squints at me, holds my jaw in her
floured hands, says, Your face. You’re Italian.

            for Mama Bruscha

Author Portrait

Ross Losapio’s poetry has appeared in Copper Nickel, The Emerson Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, The Minnesota Review, and elsewhere. His reviews have appeared in Blackbird, 32 Poems, Rattle, and Verse Wisconsin. He earned a BA in writing and English from Loyola University, Maryland, and an MFA in poetry from Virginia Commonwealth University, where he served as the 2012 lead associate editor for Blackbird.

View the website of Ross Losapio