Friday, January 1, 2010

Luca Penne

Haunted by the Word Micturate

Haunted by the word micturate, meaning to urinate, yet
not meaning that, I face the silence of the house after
New Year's, the creak of heat in the pipes, the contented
hum of appliances. No language forms naturally, but out
of need. I need to communicate with things rather than
people, and the word micturate, meaning the hing-ness
of objects, inorganic passions will help me fight the gusts
of fear blowing from the east. The face of a dead ancestor
presses to mine, presses so hard the skull aches and blue
light wheezes from cracks. By this netherworld flare I read
sorry inscriptions, plush old slogans, cris-de-couer etched
in bile. Later these will solidify to words meaning micturate,
not at all to urinate, to discreetly excrete one's minor poisons,
but to drive a stolen truck miles into the sodden north and
finally crash-land on the surface of a frozen pond where
the engine dies and one begins the long walk to Canada
and a firmer grip on all things Canadian. Having read those
inscriptions, I'll relegate that ancestor to the cruelest realms
of memory where childhood suffocates in shame and I'll
write on a lined tablet the word micturate again and again
until that bladder-full of syllables seems too familiar for the
untrained ear to blame.

Arrangement in Steel and Flesh

When despite the clammy autumn chill you leapt fully
clothed in the river and swam with big overhand stroke
I stood amazed and rebuked, watching. Later when
you stripped and lay naked on the riverbank to dry,
indifferent to stares of passersby, I admired both flesh
and mind. You looked so untouchable, sleek Art Deco
machine, stainless and gleaming. That was years ago.
Surely now you're old as me and as indifferent to history
as you were to your own lean flesh. If we should meet,
say, in a mall surrounded by consumer goods in popular
but dingy fall colors, taupe and olive drab, we'd address
each other in tones we've learned from John Updike
stories. I'd lose forever your naked image, the windmill
of your stroke, the disdain that formed an aura around
you clothed or otherwise, and be forced to replace it
with glib matronly humor I always knew you'd gladly
grow into. Why leave you with preposition deployed? I
revert to that cool afternoon when I gazed at your goose
bumps with reverence, afraid to touch. The river gurgled
in contentment. People on the further bank stared,
amazed at how much of you there was to bare, and how
little the sky-blue of your eyes seemed to care which
elements coincided so long as the scene included you
while excluding everyone else.

-both poems previously published at The Furnace Review

Devil Enough For Anyone

Rain varnishes the plate glass. A chickadee mashes against
it, breaking its neck. I open the slider and pick up the little
corpse. Half a fistful of reedy bone and fluff. I regret having
polished the glass only yesterday, the clean surface as
tempting as a religious ideal. In the garden while the rain
expresses its dismay I bury the creature and attempt a prayer.
What coughs up is a curse so ugly the temperature drops a
full degree. Something goat-footed is crashing through the
woods a few yards beyond my garden so I hustle indoors,
slide the slider to keep out whatever my sick ritual invoked.
When it emerges from the woods it’s only my neighbor, drunk
again, his pants falling to his knees. He stumbles into a heap
and lies there, a slur of vomit trickling from his snore. Yes,
he’s devil enough for anyone. I should call his wife to rescue
him, but maybe I’ll leave him there until a snicker of lightning
ignites his breath, confirming his infernal purpose.

Green and White Striped Shirt

I’m a rare creature indeed, my brassy hair crisp as a nest
of question marks, my post-Italian nose an intrusive sort of
proboscis.. At the outdoor café I squat among my colleagues,
all unemployed and sexually morose, and we discuss the latest
ugly film from Scotland. We agree that the heroin-addled
delinquents portrayed therein don’t in the least resemble us.
We agree that the heroin in our intellects is a state of mind,
not a drug. But the others distrust me when I wear my green
and white horizontally striped shirt. They think I think I’m
better than they are, and so I am. Jennifer wants me to take
it off so she can count my ribs, but I refuse to expose my
untanned areas to so satirical a gaze. Even when my shirt
flutters like a kite in a storm, even when rain snuffs our
discussion, even when Jennifer drags me to her little room
above the convenience store I resist removing it. No matter
how boldly she uncorks bottle after bottle of tart white wine
I remain as fully dressed as a priest in the confessional. When
she leans out the window to laugh at the world and encourage
the world to laugh at me I clutch myself and dash down the
stairs, my white stripes rattling and my green stripes hushing
like fronds.

-both poems previously published at The Poetry Warrior

No comments:

Post a Comment