Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A portent of plenty



It might be the owl that cues the night
from her branch in the oak when I rise
half asleep to relieve myself at the precise
moment I begin to think of you, or the
black phoebe that brings the six-legged
sun in its beak to perch the crossbeam
outside my window in a portent of plenty.

It might be rounding a curve to see
the vehicle already airborne kicking
up dirt midway through its flip and
coming to rest on its roof while I
pretend composure leaving panic to
those who would have it as I already
know there’ll be time for all that later.

And it might be the bright swath of
vapor cutting the sun in half, rain on
the way, signs inscribed on the horizon,
the thousand ways the day might intrude
itself into your dread or wishfulness,
the dreamladen nudges in the night that
whisper a butterfly has eaten the moon.

Joseph Gallo
February 29, 2012


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

From where we hold awhile


The Old City

Those years ago, this was the last night of it.
The masked merrimented spent of their raucous
revelry, their costumes rouged and rent, brimmed
in a calamity of cups. We stood and swayed in
circles to music skipping off the old cracked walls
of the Weinmarkt, the kitschy schlager song about
Greek wine pouring mirth like retsina from our mouths.

These years hence, my hands have weathered some
since they lingered briefly along the lineage of your
fair face, slipped the trace of your perfect nape to find
shoulders that have known worlds beyond my transit.
I think of you now yet young and alive as Fasnacht
winds down to the rising sun, your love beside you
as the loves of winters gone still chase their shadows
along the place where the swans gather and scatter.


I think of you now arrived years since, your future
yet to ripen, your hurried hem kissing the keeping
street stones that have known love and lutesong, loss
and longing, the dark plagues that reminds us time
will take it all as when the moment a girl yields to
her first lover, the field surveyed and laden with snow,
the humors of the blood stirred with the season that
makes warmth an edict of both pleasure and necessity.

So I think of us then, now and then, caught in the frieze
of a recollected doorway, our arms indiscernible as where
we touch, the passersby eddied in singular currents that
take them downriver from where we hold awhile as the
world throws itself against the stars we alone flint in kisses
that light the battlements that ring the old city above us.
Those years ago, this was the last night of that. And so
it is again. You are there, I am here, as we are everywhere
yet together, everywhere as everywhere is where we are not.

Joseph Gallo
February 21, 2012


Thursday, February 09, 2012

For an appetite of small talk


The Beautiful City

It took Fellini to tell me I never saw my father dance.
All the days of our lives were less than the days I’ve
given my son. He has seen me dance. So when he writes
some lost memoir of me, it will be about never seeing
me do something else. Perhaps, what he’ll remember is
just not seeing me. In La Città Bella, we sit and dine
together, as families everywhere do. We discuss the day,
the million bits of minutiae that comprise the better of
an hour, over pasta and garlic bread buttered with smiles
the day has worn rich by its living. There might be a
girl named Nicolina, a boy named Marcellino, a veiled
woman with no name at all passing by the open window,
strangers marking the tiny divisions between now and
the next now. The clinking of eloquent silverware making
for an appetite of small talk, persiflage, if you prefer,
the white ceramic plates glinting glossy gas lamps from
across the galaxy. Underbrow, something like worry
wears my underface when I reread the first line of this
poem: I never saw my father dance. There are grottoes
carved out of human hearts. Mine is built this way.
So is my son’s, I know it. If I could, I’d tell him that I
could hold passages of strings in my legs, that my hips
were able to round the tango out of a woman’s feint lilt,
that my blood knew tamboured beats well enough to keep.


The Beautiful City remembers everything for us. It keeps
us fast to its guttered bosom, bids us come inside as the
sun slips into the last birdcalls, presses the dusk against
our throats like a brazed stiletto, holds the last door open
‘til we’ve scuttled in breathless, our chests heaving with
good fortune. There is weeping rising up from the basement.
Or is it drifting from the attic, we cannot tell. Temples of
tangrammatic flesh make puzzles of what we can’t decipher
from known shapes we are born to make. In this way are we
set outside ourselves from time to time, to be tendered with
rarity and feasts lost to a barren tree of extinct knowledge.

I can’t say what I mean, but you know, you know. Just
open your mouth, your blouse, your prison filled with
all you forsake for happiness like a cigarette fast asleep
in bed. Such are the sentences of sons and fathers to sons
again. In The Beautiful City, it will all matter, all of it.
The air will thicken with cympasia and silence, the drawing
kiss nepenthe sings to the nightingale’s sweet forgetting.

Joseph Gallo
July 8, 2011


Friday, February 03, 2012

This place of quick forgetting



That small lake in Holland still holds her
three trees along the bank. Ordinary lake,
pond really, nothing remarkable, nothing
to recollect why it matters all these years
later. A scattering of ducks where the canal
glazes in from the north, a single bird braving
the middle waters, one paddled foot after
the other, until the dark vectors of its passing
disrupts the diffused light a reluctant sun placed
there rising to flatten out into long v’s of flight.
The halt old man, the hasty lovers, the tardy maid
who might have angled through the fields to pass
this place of quick forgetting, the deafening
calls of dawn or dusk pressing duty to the
hurried feet, life an impatient visitor in need
of tending to at all costs, even this one.


The moving of a single chair changes the room,
releases the house from within itself, turns the
world toward a point of direction it has never
known along an arc that trails off into what has
yet to be. Clean the window glass and a star
settles the sill. The door ajar is neither open,
nor shut, allows neither light nor shadow to
enter or leave. Halls hold posture, offer fleet
transition to all who would seek such promises
of it. The rug untrod stays to its purpose, cares
nothing for the foot that has not traversed, or
for those that will. Shelves settle deep into
themselves, hold all we might need before we
ever know the ache of such reckless needing.

In these things come what it is to live for such loss.

Joseph Gallo
January 8, 2012