John Poch and Jonathan Whitfill

Denzel Sestina

In the background, Denzel Washington, who preferred not to come ashore with his fellow celebrity.
—Caption of photograph in Naples newspaper, Il Mattino

I wish you would have come ashore this morning
to Lacco Ameno for the sfogliatella
and selfies with the locals. I jogged past
the port and suffered on my three mile race
with time. Almost fifty, I slogged up the hill
that overlooks your monstrous yacht. Which one?

I bet that new two-story silver one
that looked like a destroyer yesterday morning.
We saw it from another mighty hill,
Castello Aragonese. Sfogliatella
is a shell-shaped, stuffed, and layered-leaf treat. No race,
no hurry, six times the baker folds her past-

ry, crafting this confection unsurpassed.
I'm not much into movie stars, not one
for the latest hype. A poet, I erase
much better than I write. Most Texas mornings
I eat my toast, and I dream of sfogliatella
and cappuccino on someone else's hill

above the sea, some steep volcanic hill
now looking out on Saint Paul's shipwreck past,
perhaps these very waters. Sfogliatella,
like a sun-stuffed seashell, pleases everyone.
Your pal, Will Smith, on Ischia this morning!
Your two yachts moored there are in a kind of race.

Of wealth. You float. I run. I sidestep race,
though half the world in which we live, the hill
we climb, the sea we sail, is words. Morning
has cast its jasmine over the slave trade past.
But Africa's not far, whence gusted one
dusty scirocco last week. Sfogliatella

is rich. You really should try the sfogliatella.
I've changed again our theme from precarious race
to pastry, privilege, taste. As I, for one,
can taste in the candied orange this local hill
terraced with citrus trees, the ancient past
in the blood orange, the orange's blood like morning.

On heaven's hill, Denzel, no death, no mourning,
our bodies shift, our mortal races passed.
And breakfast: sfogliatella for everyone.

John Poch's poems have been published in Paris Review, Poetry, Yale Review, and Agni. His most recent book, Texases, was published by WordFarm in 2019. He teaches at Texas Tech University.

Jonathan Whitfill received an MFA in Sculpture from Texas Tech University in 2006, following a BS with a focus in Biology and Chemistry from Wayland Baptist University in 2000. Whitfill exhibits his work primarily in his native Texas habitat, but has also exhibited nationally and internationally, spanning seventeen states, France and China. He is a founder of many artist-run collaborative organizations including the RJP Nomadic Gallery, Earthbound Moon, Culture Laboratory Collective, The Button Project, and the Free Range Creatives.