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Poems of the Week

Cycle

______In a past life, I was my teacher Jan,

___________who was Amelia Earhart in hers, and also Lizzie Borden.

In this life, I miss my petticoats. Jan misses her leather jacket.

_________Jan has no children. When she was Amelia Earhart,
she passed from matter into spirit into matter and
when you can do that, you can choose
whether or not to come back.
She chose not.

_____________In order to become me,
_______Amelia had to walk all the way back from the Bermuda Triangle,
_______sick with disappointment
_______that she hadn’t quite escaped. I was the trail of blood in her.
.
.
.
Then the rage became Lizzie, poor Lizzie—hot all the time. That word ‘spinster’

_______wove a net over her that laced her up tight as her corset and made her eyes bulge and dart.

_______she bled and bled, this moon curse that made her even hotter, the spongy rags

between her legs, the dull pain from her womb up through her spine to her head where

everything looked gray or red. So much blood, yet she didn’t die; was there such a thing

as too much blood? The question enraged her—who was so

___________________________________________horribly alive and bleeding.
.
.
Then came Jan, grudgingly
_______admired by Kerouac. They both looked good smoking. Jan was always “smoking her brains out.” That’s the way Jan speaks sometimes, it’s the Lizzie in her.

_______The other part of Jan only speaks when she is flying,

her mind well-joined as a bird’s wing and as light. Her voice

_______comes out over the water and echoes there for years.
.
.
Being me means not being able to find the aerie,
_______this present is fleshy—
We were burned as witches long ago,

it’s true, I can’t cross oceans, though I float beautifully—but now

I am bloody with desire for a child. This womb has long been filled with Amelia’s

airplane, Lizzie’s upstairs parlor.
.
.
.
After this I want to be Jan again: I am only feral—
_______She is wild.


__________________________________________________________
Alison Rogers Napoleon’s poems have appeared in BloodLotus Journal and Podium. She currently teaches English and Creative Writing at Hunter College in NYC. She also has a blog called PRACTICE about yoga and other feelings that don’t always fit into poems.

 

in our bodies now

orange blossoms
_____over her childhood yard
__________a grasshopper’s long arc

__________grasshopper’s long arc
_____over her childhood yard
a shimmering

shimmering
_____on the motel window
__________trickles of sweat

__________trickles of sweat
_____on the motel window
a sickly flicker

sickly flicker
_____the tv’s radiant breath
__________on her naked arm

__________on her naked arm
_____the tv’s radiant breath
goosebumps

goosebumps
_____her sunburst tattoo
__________rayed with wrinkles

__________rayed with wrinkles
_____her sunburst tattoo
still aglow

still aglow
_____the iris’s purple yearning
__________in our bodies now

__________in our bodies now
_____the iris’s purple yearning
the dead fire’s heat

NOTES: This poem was originally published in South x Southeast v.13 no.3.
“In our bodies now” is in a form I call a ‘floating-leaf’ haiku sequence, due to the drifting, swaying repetition of the lines. Each three-line grouping is written to stand alone as a haiku, but each new line also contributes to the poem’s progress as a unified whole.
____________________________________________________
Mild-mannered library assistant by day, Josh Hockensmith turns into a mild-mannered poet, translator and book artist by night. He produces artists’ books, small editions, and blank books under the name blue bluer books. His artists’ books are held in library collections around the country. He is also a contributing editor to the English-language haiku journal South by Southeast. His work has appeared in Cafe Irreal, Versal, and Oyster Boy Review, among others.

The House Wakes

no big subjects today
the house settles
brunch
two phone calls
the story of an auction
outbid, alas
then grief, still
over the lines
which are no longer lines
but pulses that
go halfway to the moon
and back again
bouncing off
tiny plates
the world won’t
let go of
the dishes
appear here
unwashed
the air could not decide
to warm or chill
no big subjects today
the house wakes
lights turn on inside
and down the street
to the edge of the park
but not in the park
the darkness there

_____________________________________________________________
Elizabeth Clark Wessel’s poems and translations have appeared or are forthcoming in DIAGRAM, A Public Space, No, Dear, Sixth Finch, Asymptote, Lana Turner Journal, and Fawlt Magazine, among others. She lives in Brooklyn and is an editor at Argos Books.

Utah

Did you fathom the distractions
it takes to wash down grass when rain
becomes solid and wasteful? Here you are
the insistence of an object when that object
takes me to your ocean. I want to know
the 1912 about the way you dress your socks
on winter nights when pigeons dare to roam
the streets. I want to recite the loveboat sermon
with you, wielding through corridors,
finding objects to place in picture frames.
You said, “Let’s defy gravity over there.”
I sailed to Utah that day. Throwing cups
at the circumference of your name.

______________________________________________
Alina Gregorian’s poems have been published in Boston Review, GlitterPony, H_NGM_N, and other journals. She co-edits the collaboration journal Bridge.

from Get Your Slip On

”’

get your slip on
maybe for purpose
maybe for delegation
tonight is my time to swim softly
out at sea
like inside someone’s camera lens
you see yourself swimming
while the action is archived
you are sheltered from the sun
with one of those wide-brimmed papyrus umbrellas
it is a mellow image
like a sterling-silver formation of boats
I gave you the party I was meaning to throw myself
a house full of roses
a bath of celebrity photos
for once there’s no impulse to censor
I have an epistemological relationship with a certain kind of kismet
flare guns at my ice sculptures
belly-dancers at my funeral
everything is Freddie Mac ruined this country
that is a go zone
this is not
it is the reality of the scenario

”’

invisible ballet played out in your chest
fit for it
for romantic tropical light and ease
for a republic of station wagons
and singing sisters
you fell down to the music
pulled out a party streamer
used the coral to quote-end-quote mark your rhythm
will dance for scallops and cherries
visit the restaurant
you’ve been meaning to chaperone your kids on dates to
they are there
without you
giving you the middle finger
an enjambed kind of night
pluck anything you don’t see fit
it’s beginning to blind through
raspberry cake
fuck you earthquake
last night rocked
jungle gym of fever
clandestine enterprise for the young up-and-comers
it’s okay to achieve greatness
with all those lost orgies
baked-young skin cancer
a twister in your thighs
17 and still stuck on the high-beam
can there be a day to celebrate failure?

___________________________________________________
Paige Taggart is the author of three chapbooks: DIGITAL MACRAMÉ (Poor Claudia), Polaroid Parade (Greying Ghost Press), and The Ice Poems (forthcoming with DoubleCross Press). Additional publications and her jewelry can be found here: mactaggartjewelry.blogspot.com

Words to Oneself

What I have heard here
among endless shifting sights
the air invisibly bright
blinds recognition
words carried silently
by the will of it
caught in colorful petals.
Their scent is a thousand
years, appearing and disappearing
without a present.
I have never really
seen anything.
Eyes bathed
within a massive song,
overtaken, submerged,
deepening away,
less than a dream’s weight.
The body without horizon,
and exhaustion pouring out
into space
deflated of purpose.
You hold the watcher
in your arms
speak the tongue
of patient endings.
Singing, in a way, to your separated
dreaming
brother
here listening in the dark.
Holding his net into the air.

_________________________________________________
Walter Stone is a poet and musician. He lives in Portland, OR.

I write for ghosts

I write for you, old women
who sit at the gates, spin yarn
and knit socks for the dead.

My every gesture is mirrored
by a thousand hands.

I carry these faces inside me,
on my back,
on my feet.

The ghosts don’t let me sleep.

They gather on windowsills and roofs,
in the moon’s breath,

and chat
with chattering teeth.

I write for my father
who still hangs on in Skype,

to reach him,
fill the gap with words.

Hang on, Daddy, hang on.
Here’s a rope ladder.

Here are the words, Daddy.

Here’s the blood,
the new heart,
the straw.

Scriu pentru stafii

Scriu pentru voi, femei batrane
ce stati la porti, toarceti
si impletiti ciorapi pentru morti.

Fiecare gest mi-e oglindit
de o mie de maini.

Port aceste fete in mine,
pe picioare,
in spate.

Stafiile nu ma lasa sa dorm.

Se strang pe pervazuri si acoperisuri,
in rasuflarea lunii,

si palavragesc
clantanind din dinti.

Scriu pentru tatal meu
ce inca asteapta pe Skype,

sa ajung la el, sa umplu
golul cu cuvinte.

Stai asa, tata, asteapta-ma,
uite scara de franghie.

Uite cuvintele, tata.

Uite sangele
si-o inima noua,

si-un pai
de care sa te agati.

_______________________________________________
Claudia Serea is a Romanian-born poet who immigrated to the U.S. in 1995. She is the author of Eternity’s Orthography (Finishing Line Press, 2007) and To Part Is to Die a Little (Červená Barva Press). She co-translated The Vanishing Point That Whistles, an Anthology of Contemporary Romanian Poetry (Talisman Publishing, 2011).

Ballata del Maine

Volo impercettibilmente calmo, come in un film
in cui suo fratello guardava distrattamente la spiaggia,
per poi trovare conforto in una nuvola
su cui l’occhio si posava,
come quella volta, ancora in volo, ma con altri,
non più suo fratello ormai distratto, senza conforto,
con altri che all’epoca parlavano di morte, come la morte
fosse passata calma, in volo, come in un film
a parlare di morte, morte come blocco della foto
remota eppure presente, saluto a due mani
da lontano, nel fotogramma ingiallito, quelli che rimangono
fanno domande, se lo chiedono, dove si va?
Ma sì, c’e’ da chiederselo, che succede, cosa si vede?

Ora come in un film, ma questa volta all’indietro,
ai giorni di scuola, sulle scale che contengono le impronte
che ancora parlano di lui, come quella volta con i suoi amici,
ancorati alle pagine, a parlare di morte, era sull’Atlantico, era sul Pacifico?
Da est ad ovest, da ovest ad est, a parlare
da est ad ovest, da ovest ad est per non tornare
non tornare ai giorni della scuola, quelli della pioggia,
irragiungibili, così ad ovest come ad est.
impercettibili, in volo, a chiederselo, che cosa si vede?
Andando verso ovest, verso est, come sempre
alla fine del ritornello, verso ovest verso est
a chiederselo di nuovo, che cosa si vede?
Perché poi a parlare sono gli altri, che guardano non visti,
non uditi, come in volo, impercettibili, come sempre.

Ballad of Maine
(Translation by Olivia Holmes)

A still imperceptible flight, like in a film
in which his brother watched the beach distractedly,
to find comfort then in a cloud
on which his eye rested,
like that time, still in flight, but with others,
no longer his brother, distracted by now, discomforted,
with others that at the time spoke of death, as death
had passed calmly, in flight, like in a film
speaking of death, death as a freeze of the photo
remote and yet present, a two-handed wave
from far off, in the yellowing movie still, those who are left
inquire, they ask themselves, where do we go?
Indeed, we should wonder, what happens, what can be seen?

Now, as if in a film, but backwards this time,
to his schooldays, on the stairs that keep the prints
that still speak of him, like that time among friends
anchored to the pages, speaking of death, on the Atlantic or the Pacific?
From east to west, from west to east, speaking,
from east to west, from west to east, not turning back,
not going back to his schooldays, the rainy ones,
unreachable, to the west or east,
imperceptible, in flight, to wonder: what can be seen?
Going westward, eastward, as always
at the end of the refrain, westward eastward
wondering again: what can be seen?
Because it is the others who speak, who look without being seen
or heard, as if in flight, imperceptible, as always.

_______________________________________________
Mario Moroni was born in Italy in 1955. He moved to the United States in 1989. He has taught at Yale University, the University of Memphis, and Colby College. He currently teaches Italian at Binghamton University. Moroni has published seven volumes of poetry and one of poetic prose. In 1989 he was awarded the Lorenzo Montano prize for poetry.

Anger Managment

A man wanted to control his anger,
so frightful even grizzly bears feared him.

A shaman told him to insult and beat a log
with a stick until he was exhausted.

When the weary man returned and asked,
“What lesson have I learned?” the shaman replied,

______________“Be like the log.”

KOHT’AENE TS’AKUT’EH
(Literally “The man who gets angry”)

Koht’aene ts’akut’eh,
tsaani lii koht’aene.

C’ededliinen koht’aene yaa nitezet ‘eł tson decen
kae sen xał k’e tsaa.

Koht’aene na’idyaa ‘eł yaa
“Yidi uzadalts’et?” c’ededliinen yaa,

______________“Cic’uunen decen.”

_________________________________________
John Elvis Smelcer is one of the founding editors, and poetry editor, of Rosebud magazine, about to release its 50th consecutive quarterly issue in March. Smelcer is a Clifford D. Clark Fellow in English at Binghamton University in upstate New York. Smelcer is one of the last speakers on earth of the Ahtna Athabaskan language, an endangered Alaska Native language. Only 20 or so elders, all 30-50 years older than John, still speak the language.

Piercings

Pierced flesh
grows back
like graffiti painted over
the morning after
wounds we carry
from the dark
show scars
we cannot hide
in the mirror
my piercings
are invisible
to the naked eye
but mark me
as a troubled heart
nailed
to your memory
slowly mending

_________________________________________
Rob Mustard‘s first ebook of poems, Blue Moon, was published in December. As he writes on his poetry site, www.rhmustard.com, “My poems are about love, death, the power of memory to save us. I am most interested in the unexpected ways words speak to each other, the hidden meaning they reveal about us and the world.” Rob lives in Los Angeles.

Tinsel Tinsel
for M.C.

A fool for love, an inner refugee,
sees a peacock strutting in the birdhouse
high on a branch and fanning
the broadest, most articulated fan tail
the fool for love has ever seen.
“Come fly with me!” the fool calls to the peacock,
but the bright bird keeps strutting up and down
above the fool for love there on the ground.

A blackbird comes and settles on his shoulder.
His pecks are rough caresses as he asks him,
“Why do you keep staring at that tree?”
“Peacock!” the fool for love cries, but the blackbird
caws back, “Fool! Since when do peacocks fly?
Look around the birdhouse: see us towhees,
wrens and jays and blackbirds
flittering and swooping—
what we always do for free.”

All the fool can do is stare.
His neck is permanently out of whack;
he doesn’t care.
But one fine day in slanted light
he glances up as usual and spies
not his darling bird of paradise
but a hank of Christmas tinsel
trailing in the birdhouse breeze . . .

Even so he often murmurs,
“Peacock!” in his haunted dreams.
Ask me why, the reason’s simple:
he’s a fool for love, blackbirds
are blackbirds, peacocks peacocks,
tinsel tinsel.

_______________________________________________
Jonathan Galassi is a poet, translator, and editor. A newly revised edition of his translation of Eugenio Montale’s Collected Poems 1926-1954 has just been published.

Who to Tell

Who to tell no one cares when no one cares
No one takes the time to care for a monster

I care for monsters
But only because I am one

I go in the dark house
With the ghosts
And the ghosts take my coat off
The junkies

The other man sits slumped in the chair
Is he dead yet?
I do not know

I know that no one cares about anything
I do know that the dressing room
Is drab and grey

And my pink patterned dress
Looks ridiculous against something so truthful

Wildness is not sadness
The wilderness is not sad
It is naked

I am not
If only because
Decomposition is
Not nudity

Who to tell this?
Who do I tell when no one cares

I did not expect them to
I did not expect them to care
I am not mad

I’m not mad any longer
People eat tomatoes
People eat bread

I am a monster
I eat life

But only because I am losing mine
Into a horrible void
That for you is only an idea

I once felt better about things
I once felt better about things
When the blankness was just an idea
Like the way you still think of it

Still I don’t think love is an idea
I don’t think compassion is an idea
I don’t think babies are born out of loneliness
I don’t think the sea is cold

I only think it is cool
Cool cool sea
Blue-green mystery
Mysterious fish

If only I had been born
A fish
Instead of a monster

If only the water were my only home
I would swim so quietly
I would not say hello to you
I would no longer be sad

I would still be me though
And I would not let you catch me
For your dinner

And when you wanted to eat me for your dinner
I would disappear


________________________________________________________
Dorothea Lasky is the author of AWE, Black Life, and the forthcoming Thunderbird, all from Wave Books. She is also the author of several chapbooks, including Poetry is Not a Project (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2010). She currently lives in NYC and can be found online here.

PHOTO CREDIT: Lawrence Schwartzwald

River 2

They thought themselves too much
Acquainted with their seasonal
Removal from the wet industry,
Or rather placed beside it,
Two picnickers blessed by them
And losing the thought carefully
Like a scientist in the river sent
To be their blind guest
As the center keeps forming
Only to the situation
That knows it and to no other
Abstraction suggesting, “Things have gotten
Too soon.” All things should be
Sent back—except the hawks—
Without us to the city.


__________________________________________
Paul Legault is the author of The Madeleine Poems (Omnidawn, 2010), The Other Poems (Fence, 2011) and The Emily Dickinson Reader (McSweeney’s, forthcoming). He is co-editor of the translation journal, Telephone, and he works at the Academy of American Poets.

PHOTO CREDIT: Lawrence Schwartzwald

A

On my entire obscene face
there is something I’m trying
to achieve. It is colorless. It
is self-published. It is inner

fatigue. It is so superfluous!
It is part of an addiction I hate
and depend on. It naturally
enters into conversations.

It will induce a kind of slow
intuition. It will be sloppy
and corrugated. It will smell
pleasant. It will be animals

playing on a farm. It will be
completely alone. It will not
be so bad. It will be missing
out. It will have a vague sense

of relief. It will be committing
without action. It will be floating
on the surface of everything.
It will be an amorphous tedium.

It will be sleep. It will be a party.
It will be a good lunch and supper.
It will be a whole day and night.
It will be an indefinite field full of

universal life. It will be a giant lack
of noise. It will look like the cult
of humanity. It will look like it is
“only a manuscript” in a Johnny-

come-lately style. It will be hunched
over an illustration. It won’t tell.
It, strictly speaking, won’t exist,
full like a thing full of feeling.

___________________________________________
Simone Kearney’s poems can be found in Ragazine (forthcoming), Bridge Journal (forthcoming), Post Road Magazine, Elimae, Maggy, Sal Mimeo and Supermachine. She was a recipient of the Amy Awards from Poets & Writers Magazine in the fall of 2010. She works as a lecturer at Rutgers and Pace University, and writes for the Thierry-Goldberg Projects gallery in the Lower East Side. She is also a visual artist, and lives in Brooklyn.

Pissing

What part of life is in the weirdness
spreading illimitably around
what fits? At face level, as he
stood there, glaucous light was caught
in the clear plastic shower curtain.
This light came from the sun
by an obscure but direct path
through the airshaft. Look at it!
The body of the slender man slouched
forward like a bow. And his hand
pinched his cock over the trouser notch.
He hadn’t turned the light on, because, of course, he knew
where the gleam-smudge of the commode cupped its shadowed pool.
What a limp arrow and what an idle, slouching cupid!
Whom does he hope to transpierce? He touched
the plummeting fireflies of urine with his gaze and with thought.
Would he ever choose to pass this moment
if this were heaven where every action flows
in simple purposefulness from desire? However absurd and embarrassing,
he thought of love. All right…I did. The cloudy light
got into the curtain so slyly
it looked inherent, and it made the acid drippings
of penis gleam. A pelting or dropping of mad flies
against the flimsy shanty of purpose. Plains, weird vistas
ran from every wall of that shanty of thought,
and the crazed plastic over the windows crepitated.

What part of life retires into the ghostly regions around
each thing we think and do? I loved him, no doubt of it,
but something couldn’t be resolved. I’ll never forget
the way, when teased, I reddened and blew up:
“Shut up! Leave me alone! How can you be so cruel?
You’re playing with me. Are you? Playing with me?”
But I felt a sort of strength like, in olden days,
entrails strung on a line to cure. Weird, weird, the silence between us
ran out like plains. And his expression was as fathomable
as plastic alit. Would it now
be worth anything merely to pretend
to see his cloudy face in the blur of light
the plastic shower curtain caught?

What part of life have they hit on when they say
the rules of understanding sparsen and break off at the edges?
That the weirdness of the light might as well be his
ghost, because it may be too awful to speak of
if not called that? This is too much. I came to “do my duty”
and found “Shanty,” “Cupid,” penis. In the kitchen
I left stolid life behind. I left water on the stove top.
No boyfriend, teasing or otherwise, rattles the kettle,
though I hear its tinseled, pre-boil popping.
Mere crepitation? Or the sound from across vast plains of a love spell being cast
in a hail of mad, glinting darts?

Damn. Now I don’t want more coffee. That was a false start.
How scary that your actions will only approximate your desires!
It means your whole life history could be more shallow than you meant: coffee
when you also feel like something else, you’re not sure what.
In heaven it’s not that way. There, everything is wanted,
known and done in a bold stroke. No weird plains isolate
purpose. He will not be there. Nor love. All right and I?

____________________________________________________________
David McConnell is the author of the novels The Silver Hearted (2010) and The Firebrat (2003). His short fiction and journalism have appeared widely in magazines and anthologies. He lives in New York City.

The last installment of this month’s Poem of the Week is a special one: three poems by Paul Violi—poems originally published in his first full-length collection In Baltic Circles by Kulchur Foundation in 1973 and now reissued by H_NGM_N Books.

When choosing poems these last three weeks, I had Paul in mind, and it wasn’t hard to cull from the multitudes of former Paul Violi students whose work (and lives) have been influenced by him. I could fill a whole year of Poem[s] of the Week with Violi-inspired verse. Which isn’t to say Paul encouraged his students to imitate his style (you can’t ape wit, charm, and unrelenting curiosity) nor that he had a heavy hand when editing his students’ poems (on the contrary, he knew just how to nudge you in the right direction—your direction).

Before Paul passed away suddenly in April 2011 of pancreatic cancer, he was working on the reissue of In Baltic Circles with H_NGM_N. Recently released, the new volume includes an introduction by Nate Pritts and an afterword by Matt Hart, with the original 1973 cover portrait by Paula North.

“It is my hope,” says Pritts in his introduction to the reissued 192-page-volume, “that by making this book available again, new and return readers can joyously remember that the antidote to indifference is zany generosity, to counter detachment with a limitless range of feeling.” It is that “limitless range” that makes reading Paul Violi so exhilarating, perhaps most inspiring—and for which I’m most thankful.

–Allison Power, November 2011

(Special thanks to Ann Violi, Charles and Paula North, Tony Towle, Matt Hart, and H_NGM_N Books.)

***Paul Violi Memorial Reading: Friday, December 2, 6:30 PM, The New School

Theresa Lang Community and Student Center,
Arnhold Hall, 55 West 13th Street, 2nd floor.

***In Baltic Circles can be purchased here and here.

 

ON THE RISE

__East on 7th Street
like portraits, dusty oils, an old immigrant
sitting behind each window

White monster garbage truck
grinds up yesterday

____grim tramp in the alley
____rummaging through cans
_____drops a scrap into his burlap bag
_______and totters away

____________Sway-back Pegasus
moseying over toward the park
_________and a few spades
bopping locomotive
motherfucker-motherfucker-motherfucker

But the street a stream
_____________Mira! Mira!
kids dragging their girlfriends
into the open priapic hydrants

__Fast clouds over the hot day
smell of moisture in the air
and suddenly trees
anxious and lively
__________below the imminent rain

include girls dancing
and a muffled rock beat

_____long hair tossing

___________saying climb on me

___________saying
_____________welcome to the sky


EXCERPTS FROM THE CHRONICLES

My tooth aches and a drowsy numbness pains
__my head; the gas the dentist gave me
sent me soaring through a pinhole in the sky
__It was, to my estimation, Zero Hour

___________________****

Throwing books out of high windows
________only to see them descend again
later, as I sit under the lamp
____and the wasted moths fall into my lap

It’s a difficult habit to break

___________________****

Planes lost in the fog, monotonous lullabies,
They’ll drone on for a while, they’ll sputter
and crash and briefly disturb the crickets

but then, my white hour, we will finally sleep

___________________****

A housing development continues its glacial
movement through the hills
Impossibilities flounder on the opposite horizon

. . . yank the paper out of the typewriter, crumple
it up, toss it on the floor
The cat pounces, struts away triumphantly holding
the paper in its mouth like a bird

___________________****

In a large, unfurnished sunlit room
a man nails an extraordinary book to the floor

___________________****

I went to my favorite restaurant
and ordered a typewriter
While I typed I watched this typewriter
eat corn off the cob

___________________****

O hollow autumn skies rusty madness
fumes of red voyages down wooden streets

Your clowns bore me
The exhausted women in the willow trees
have thrown their costumes under the setting sun
I don’t believe in the benefits of an eight hour sleep
I will prolong this fatigue as long as possible
Chaos will wear my composure like a wound
The wind will polish my nose

___________________****

There is a fly in the room
with a reward on its head
Heinrich Himmler looked like a fly
No, Joseph Goebbels looked like a fly
Heinrich Himmler looked like a bookworm

___________________****

You klutz, you can’t scribble without drawing a pile of rope

___________________****

The radio announcer finished playing his selection
and addressed the panel.
___Dr. Sandler was convinced the music was an early
___concerto by Haydn.
___Dr. Salmaggio doubted this very much but tended
___to agree.
___Dr. Winetz scoffed at these speculations: “All
of what you say is mere words, he protested, I have
no respect for them whatsoever, they are much
too subservient to your thoughts!”
___I, myself, found the discussion worthwhile
but couldn’t give it the attention it undoubtedly
deserved and continued shuffling through the house,
pants down around my ankles, searching for toilet paper.

___________________****

The nights were as black as carbon paper
and the days
were exact copies of all the rest.

___________________****

_____Notice

This elevator is not working today.
Just consider it an anonymous eulogy.
Please use the 53rd Street entrance.
Thank you for your cooperation—

_______________The Management


APPROACHING URANUS

Will everyone have a front row seat
Do our eyes appear as headlights
Does the glow increase while we think
Explain these nipples on my chest
Where was the Land of Cockaigne
What about the face of Charlemagne
Why warts
Did someone discover the wheel by stepping
_on his fingers at the brink of a hill
Can you appreciate the modulations of a vicious belch
Where are the plays of Menander
Does the Loch Ness Monster ring a bell
Do impure souls lend color to the flames
Do you find these myths entertaining
Or superfluous
Am I a Calvinist
Whither Martin Bormann
Has someone already asked you these questions
Have I already asked you these questions
How will I know you’re not lying
How will you know you’re not lying
Is perfection comforting
What if it isn’t


Photo: Paul Violi and daughter, Helen, ca. 1973. Courtesy of Ann Violi.

_________________________________________________________

Paul Violi wrote eleven books of poetry during his lifetime, including Overnight, Fracas, The Curious Builder, and Likewise, from Hanging Loose Press, and a selection of his longer poems, Breakers, from Coffee House Press. Widely published and anthologized both here and abroad, he received two National Endowment for the Arts fellowships in poetry, as well as grants from the Ingram Merrrill Foundation, The New York Foundation for the Arts, the Fund for Poetry, The Foundation for Contemporary Arts, and a John Ciardi Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2001 he received The Morton Dauwen Zabel Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Violi was born in New York in 1944. He grew up in Greenlawn, Long Island, and graduated from Boston University with a B.A. in English and a minor in Art History. After a stint in the Peace Corps doing map completion and survey work in northern Nigeria, Violi traveled extensively through Africa, Europe and Asia. Upon returning to New York he worked for WCBS-TV, then for various newspapers and magazines. He was managing editor of The Architectural Forum from 1972—1974 and worked on free-lance projects at Universal Limited Art Editions, researching correspondence of poets and artists and assisting Bucky Fuller while he wrote the text to Tetrascroll. As chairman of the Associate Council Poetry Committee, Violi organized a series of readings at the Museum of Modern Art from 1974 to 1983. He also co-founded Swollen Magpie Press, which produced poetry chapbooks, the poets and painters anthology Broadway edited by James Schuyler and Charles North, and a poetry magazine called New York Times.

Waterworks, a short selection of his early poems from Toothpaste Press, appeared in 1972, and Kulchur Press published In Baltic Circles the following year. Bill Zavatsky’s Sun Press published two of Violi’s books, Harmatan, a long poem set in Nigeria, in 1977 and Splurge in 1981. In 1993 he curated an exhibit “Kenneth Koch: Collaborations with Artists” for Christchurch Mansion, Ipswich, U.K., and his art book collaborations with Dale Devereux Barker, most recently Envoy; Life is Completely Interesting, have been acquired by many libraries and museums. The expanded text of their first collaboration, Selected Accidents, Pointless Anecdotes, a collection of non-fiction prose, was published by Hanging Loose Press in 2002.

Violi taught at colleges and universities, public and private institutions—New York University, The Dalton School, Sing-Sing, Stevens Institute of Technology, Bloomfield College, State University of New York at Purchase, Scarsdale Teachers Insititute. At the time of his death, he was teaching in the Department of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University and in the graduate writing program at New School University.