My father went back to night school when I was fourteen.
He would come home around 11:30pm and sleep in the
basement. It was altruistic, he said. I wasn’t sure what that
There was less of him and more of burnt out lights and leaky
faucets around the house. Mother never mentioned neglect.
As the weeks passed, the recycling bin filled with empty
bottles of red blend. She said it was good for her health.
Years later, I noticed an oil painting in the basement propped
next to the rusty bed frame. I held it in both hands captivated
by its jagged unsigned surface. The silent barefoot woman in the
countryside with flowing hair seemed to be moving with each
short thick stroke of viridian cobalt blue. It had collected mildew
on the cold cellar floor. I left her facedown in the pillow.
I mentioned the art work to mother. I could see that we were both
holding our breath like hot air balloons. Your father actually
ran off with a young art student, she said.
Billy Malanga (M.S. in Criminal Justice) is a first generation college graduate, U.S. Marine Corps veteran, and the grandson of Italian immigrants. He played college football and worked for many years in a state prison system. All of these influences have undeniably shaped his way of thinking about his art. His poetry reveals his small victories and also his struggles in redefining masculinity in an effort to better understand the beauty and brutality of the world around him. His recent poetry has been published or is forthcoming in The Ibis Head Review, Cold Creek Review, Dime Show Review, Rat’s Ass Review, Spindrift Art/Literary Journal, and at The Naga.org. He currently lives in Urbana, IL.
© Billy Malanga