Saturday, November 20, 2010

For no perceptible reason


Paris, or Fredericksburg

There were days the sky hardly noticed us. We moved
beneath it as if we had no business doing so; small things
performing small things for even smaller reasons.

Behind it all, a kind of silent narration that one catches
only between words, the ends of them, the beginnings,
but little of their middling narrative essence informing.

It might have been Paris, or Fredericksburg, the days
slipping around us like rushing rivers of time as we
took sustenance from wind and screeching cicadas.

Who you are does not matter for these lines. Neither
does who I am. We may be any of numberless forgotten
people who thought life might be a coat worth returning.

Some day, I suppose, I will do just thatwalk into some
small shop on some side street I’ve never been on before,
open the door and say, “Here’s your coat back, thank you.”

There are days the sky hardly notices us. We move
beneath it as if we were born to do so; small things
performing even smaller things for no perceptible reason.

Joseph Gallo
October 12, 2010


Thursday, November 11, 2010

The voice of god


So this book is a sidewalk strewn with junk, trash which I throw over my shoulders as I travel in time back to November eleventh, nineteen-hundred and twenty-two. I will come to a time in my backwards trip when November eleventh, accidentally my birthday, was a sacred day called Armistice Day.


When I was a boy, and when Dwayne Hoover was a boy, all the people of all the nations which fought in the First World War were silent during the eleventh minute of the eleventh hour of Armistice Day, which was the eleventh day of the eleventh month.

It was during that minute in nineteen-hundred and eighteen, that millions upon millions of human beings stopped butchering one another. I have talked to old men who were on battlefields during that minute. They have told me in one way or another that the sudden silence was the Voice of God. So we still have among us some men who can remember when God spoke clearly to mankind.

Armistice Day has become Veteran's Day.
Armistice Day was sacred.
Veteran's Day is not.
So I will throw Veteran's Day over my shoulder.
Armistice Day I will keep.
I don't want to throw away any sacred things.

What else is sacred?
Oh, Romeo & Juliet, for instance.
And all music is.

~Kurt Vonnegut from his novel, Breakfast Of Champions


I hold with this, all of it, even that part about Romeo & Juliet, while acknowledging that what he expressed about all music being sacred was written well before the advent of rap music with its vapid cliché-riddled celebration of thuglife and its relentless decimation of the English language.

Also because I, too, was accidentally born on this very day in the year nineteen-hundred and fifty-two, in the eleventh minute of the twenty-third hour, which is, for you mathophobes, 11:11pm.

By the way, the end of the excerpt above can really only be read one way, in spite of those who have tried to read and interpret it another.

When he says "God spoke clearly to mankind" he means that silence was that voice. Silence as in nothing but the stillness of a gentle breeze uninterrupted by anything more divine than that.

I got it immediately, the first time I read it back in high school.
And I still do. Bastard could write, eh?

I know he meant it this way because, like myself, Vonnegut was an avowed agnotheist. Which is why he's in Heaven now, you heathen infidels.

Joseph Gallo
November 11, 2010


Monday, November 01, 2010

Spaces between worlds


Whisper November

On the blue horizon, islands change
shape. The woman becomes a table,
her round hip flattened to hold candle
or tea cup, a sheet of writing paper as
the dawn pours bright ink over stirring
terrain to whisper it is now November.

One line after another, the story takes
form. What were middling beginnings
pass into ends that recede beyond the
deep cobalt kiss that joins sea to land.
It is the time you might come to me,
this season of spaces between worlds.


You might take my face in your hands
and press your lips of empire into my
surrender, take all I would yield gladly
to certain conquer. Birds and rabbits go
by and the heavy sun shakes off the dew
left from a hallowed night of weeping.

Before yesterday, there was no you.
No me; no us. And now November
whispers a season we might never
have traversed. Pomegranates leave
hived kisses in the trees that we might
happen beneath them, bough by bough.

On the blue horizon, the woman changes
shape. The island becomes a wild rose,
her curved petals folding in to hold bee
and tea ant, a sheaf of coiled parchment
as the wind inscribes its gentle name to
murmur only that it is now November.

Joseph Gallo
November 1, 2010