“Gelati” by Liana Cusmano

Poetry Pause is the League of Canadian Poets’ daily poetry dispatch. This June, Poetry Pause celebrates Indigenous and LGBTQI2S+ poets for Indigenous History Month and Pride Month! Read “Gelati” by Liana Cusmano.


By Liana Cusmano

our gelati are in a race

melting in the summer sun

at Parco della Piccola Italia

and for years whenever we pass that spot

one of us will mention the couple

we overheard fighting that day

as my pistacchio lost out

to your amarena

we buy a bubble blowing stick from a vendor

near Beaver Lake one afternoon

and every five-year-old

in a one hundred metre radius

becomes our number one fan

we sit by the water and make offerings

to the squirrels

I teach you the word scoiattolo

the way my father used to say it

shouting, in sing-song

our grandparents are interred in

the nearby Notre-Dame-des-Neiges Cemetery

we are not yet ready to wonder

whether our queer bodies

will be buried on this mountain

when we bring out

our very last roll of toilet paper

on a day bursting with storm clouds

I say let’s bike to the pharmacy on Jean-Talon

it’s just water

the cascade nearly flushes us d own the street

our clothes tattooed onto our bodies

by the time we reach the next block

it’s just water

I choke

you plant your feet in a puddle

handlebars lying in the mud

and say

I want to go home


the lamp on our bedside table

flickers beneath its lampshade

and it reminds me of how

you make my bones light up

from the inside.

when I start the elimination diet

you insist that we can make it fun

so we make scones exclusively

out of substitute ingredients

and when they liquefy and then crust

onto the bottom of the baking sheet

we have to throw them out,

the laughter on our tongues

the sweetest thing we’ve tasted

in weeks

that I could hold all these moments

in the palm of my hand

and live them all over again

whenever we are apart

that I could feel your skin on mine

at airports, on train platforms

in the quiet of our home

and express that nothing is more sacred

that all the time in the world

could never be enough

Copyright © Liana Cusmano

Writer, spoken word artist, and arts educator Liana Cusmano (aka Luca/BiCurious George) was the 2018, 2019 and 2023 Montreal Slam Champion and runner-up in the 2019 Canadian Individual Poetry Slam Championship. They wrote the screenplay for the short film “La femme finale”, screened at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival, and wrote and directed the award-winning “Matters of Great Unimportance”, screened at the 2019 Blue Metropolis Festival. They are Associate Editor at Accenti Magazine and Fiction Editor at the literary journal carte blanche. Their first novel, Catch & Release (2022), was published by Guernica Editions. They were also a 2022 finalist for the QWF Spoken Word Prize.

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