The man with the grey hair minus thirty years is your closest friend.
You can never meet him, a ghost being drowned in invisible ink.
But as he walks by, you can hear the muffled screams of something
you would have liked. All things come from preexisting things.
You can trace cracks in church parking lots to the celerity of late
church feet to the disapproving visage of Christ and so on. Or you
can take things forward: high traffic on Sunday leading to worn away
streets will mean god is spending your tax money.
A honeydew minus love is a cantaloupe. "They're sad," your mother
said, "Because they can't elope." You remember the little cubes she
cut them into. They even looked sad. Your grandfather plus your father
is a leather belt. Subtract your grandmother and you get ice cream and hugs.
An airplane minus wings is a submarine. An airplane plus critical failure
is also a submarine. A submarine divided by the atlantic is a tin can floating
in a massive jacuzzi. See how calm you can be with these momentary inequities,
waiting for the next result, building your equations.
The great mathematician: "I plus college. I plus new job in Utah."
We still don't know how nothing times nothing equals a carpet of stars,
But, either way, you don't pronounce the T anymore.
The Moon, the Stars, and Something Less Pretty
"You're the most beautiful woman in here," Pinball tells Oil Painting. Throughout all of human history, the first and only instance in which this line has actually worked brings me to you now. It's like eating a surfeit of donuts when that first bite tastes like Jesus' tears. When even blasphemy is too good a word for it. Her hips swayed like the tides, and eyes like the sun, I am told. I am not sure if this makes my father the moon, though he is equally dichotomized. But the stars had finally aligned. And the date with whom he entered the bar? She would find her place in other constellations. I am not sure if this makes the bar a night sky, though many have described it as a cold, dark place. The night sky, I mean. He asks her if she can have children. She asks him if he's crazy. I am not sure if his answer is No or Yes or Sometimes, but I am not sure I know what it should have been, either. Even after twenty-one years. Regret is lurking the alleys of this place, skirting the edges of circumstance. But it's out the door, around the corner, and up the emergency fire escape for now. Its pollen only lingers in the nostrils for a moment. Short enough to decide for yourself if you felt it or not. Funny thing about regret, it never really comes. You just wake up next to it one day and call it baby. Funny thing about donuts, the longer you eat them, the worse that you're going to feel.
|Rockford Poet Joseph Altamore|
The Language of Giants
In the summer of 2004, T-Ball opens his brand new eyes
to the sound of angry giants playing hopscotch in the kitchen below.
Door slams are actually paragraphs of words all said at once.
You can spend your entire adult life trying to pick apart the syllables.
The questions will arise in his flower bed mind like thistles:
Why all the fighting? What was it about? Why is "Love" a four-letter word?
Enough of that for now. It comes later. For now, try to imagine getting a
hug, then a bullet through the head, then another hug to make it all better.
Try to come up with a sentence using a fifth grader's economy of words
that's square root isn't, "I'm confused." It's like Rome: all roads lead there.
What would you have him say? Venturing down the carpeted steps to the
source of all unholiness, to thrown objects awry, and a mother with a jack-o-lantern face
of hollowed-out dreams.
The Sun, the Earth, and Something Terrifying
We see divorce every day.
Every morning the continents volley the phrase,
"Still mad," back and forth through a mouthpiece of saltwater.
The ocean is having a harder time mediating.
You wanna talk about a fucked-up childhood? Try watching two bodies
slowly ripped asunder over the duration of aeons.
Who can say what incited the conflict?
But its effects are felt everywhere:
jet-lag, war, the division of tongues we call language.
Imagine being on a sailboat when the big fights break out,
choppy waters nearly throwing you straight from the vessel.
Now the boat is a car going way too fast,
the stereo knob is rolled down.
Oil Painting eyeing holes through the windshield
as Pinball swallows a Vicodin big enough
to dam the river from brain to mouth.
Have you read the tabloids? It's the Sun and the Moon:
trouble in celestial paradise, something about another star.
Something about the Moon always being out too late.
Something about the Earth writing a book of poetry.
We think we're in love until we don't anymore.
Devoured by Flies
there is arcing and buzzing
like forks of light overhead, the sun blaring its
rays, soaking into your shirt.
you are in love and a kid.
In that order, love then kid, meaning the love is not
circumscribed within the precinct of childish understanding.
a jar of love, what does it look like? It has little notes in it
naming pieces of you somebody enjoys. It has a guitar pick on a string.
It has a little stuffed brown moose, the flotsam and jetsam of longing.
a pinch of the flesh, no not a pinch, a sinking of teeth,
something raw, open, sore-like
leaking onto your shirt.
somebody telling you not to say anything
as they slip you something that isn't love through the gap
of their mouth. It's not love but it could be. It's wet like love, desperate.
you're a kid and you have sex,
in that order.
Does it hurt? Is it scary?
a crimson stain on your shirt.
twenty crimson stains on your shirt.
Does it hurt? Is it scary?
a jar full of burning notes,
little patches of you igniting in the charring sun.
a circle of lovers like rabid hyenas
or 30,000 flies, swirling, rotating like muzzles in the july sun.
A halo of faces around your line of sight.
You can hear them talking,
arguing over who will get