In Italian, Dio provvede. A mother’s
dandelion greens cut from her own backyard,
chicory, beet greens too. Even weeks-old
slimy lettuce (they’ll never know, skilleted
with a pinch of salt and cayenne)
that we continued to buy her in those wasteful,
fancy plastic receptacles. Annoyed
after repurposing them for the umpteenth time.
How many sewing kits can we need?
How many plant-germinating containers?
In 1936, when Edith Wharton reimagined
“Roman Fever,” more than 700,000 Ethiopians
were on their way to slaughter or famine
at the hands of Italian colonialists. Our grandfather
fought in earlier incursions of that war—
this is not apocryphal—but Dio provvede,
he returned in one piece more or less
as Mussolini likewise had just laid waste to eight acres
of centuries-old habitations, churches, villas,
hills, gardens, making way for Via dei Fori Imperiali:
wider roads and improved tourists’ view.
That same year, Ralph Ellison pens
“Party Down at the Square” and leaves
his riveting tale of an anonymous lynching
hidden among his papers not to be discovered
until after his death late in the century.
A decade earlier, in the mid-and-late 80s,
two defining incidents: Michael Griffith
a Trinidadian immigrant struck dead by a car
on the Belt Parkway, after being chased
by white men from mostly Italian American
Howard Beach. Yusuf Hawkins, a black teen,
shot to death by a bat-wielding
mob of thirty mostly Italian American
young men in an act widely described
as a lynching. What did God provide then?
What does God provide now,
as some conservative Italian Americans turn away
from their immigrant roots, to sit
protectively in green and vegetable-filled gardens.
American Horror Story on Demand (Season 3)
Cut to three adult children locked in an attic-cage
torture chamber. Every time the famous
hoop-skirted actress sees blood, New Orleans, 1830,
she tries to break open the deflowering light.
What is this indiscriminate appetite for violence?
Exploitation run amok, racist guilt.
When the dutiful butler accidently cuts himself
the sight sends her ballistic, bloodthirsty.
Another famous actress comes back to life
as her balding monstrous self (great makeup).
She warns her daughter, the new Supreme, not to
usurp her power. The viewer’s mother’s
had six months to live for six years. Every night,
the viewer watches two-to-four inches
of salacious cell phone posts to calm down.
This appetite too, Red Tube’s magical subtext.
Can there really be that much good sex in the world?
Every few minutes they load another post
of torturous (to the viewer) sex videos. Apparently,
there is that much good sex. On another
sleepless night, the viewer watches actors torture
their children till three in the morning
on American Horror Story, then he watches Red Tube
before bed—this rhythm, this voracious
appetite too. The viewer demands no more skin
in this sick game. He no longer traffics in
tropes of denial or war; he’s trying to curb
his appetite for the deflowering light.
Ghost in the Light Switch
We regret we cannot attend your Zoom party.
End of the semester we’re between sizes
and digital platforms. We keep conversing
with the dead. Glad for his catatonic hoarding
and garbage collecting those last twenty years
of penitent life. Shhh he’s likely to yell
dinner’s late but he’ll settle down.
We’re playing basebal smacking our dead
harder harder swinging for the fences.
We all wanted the abusive priest
on Netflix to be stabbed multiple times.
Our near-dead still alive in the nursing home
(five isolated cases). After years
of perpetual grief lurid unable
to toilet. We worry we’ll pay for
the ultimate sins of betrayal in a level
of Hell lower than expected not the Wood
of Suicide or fiery rains but frozen in ice
scalp and neck bone gnawed. Ms. Vivi
our pup woofs at the air. There’s a ghost
in the light switch every time we turn the cellar
lights off someone/something turns them on.
Prostate Biopsy (2)
None of this psychic humiliation is lost on me.
The voices that shriek payback, but don’t finish
the life sentence. Re-enacted trauma of intrusions,
brutalizing re-memories. Boast that his spit
was the only way to clean the uncircumcised
because water was scarce. Plausible enough
in the isolated secrecy of that primitive mountain town,
poverty’s scar snaking the never-ending road
of remorse and inherited hoarding, as if the refuse
of others could stave or blunt or bury burden.
2020 consumed in the fugue of a mother’s decline;
an in-law’s sudden bladder cancer; a partner’s
growing estrangement and now this too, too ridiculous
to dwell. The staple gun probe and hours of bloat
and nausea afterward are not news and will dissipate
but that immigrant gagged desire will not;
and this is no apology or retribution, it’s the mute specter
made word and necrotizing flesh in the fucked-up living resolve
of leaving a trace, castrated bull clamoring down the penned-in roads closing in, sparing the stake.
In the lateness of the world iniquitous apocalypse
I can’t speak Italian when I’m driving to the park
I can’t navigate fingers Breezy Point Rocky Point to walk the dogs
Happy pride month as an H month autocorrect
Happy Hell Help
I was reading Mr. Curly
Reading Ms. Vivi only ice cream with a spoon
Around in your mouth to preserve the stitches try not to lick the string
in your mouth
At the event
With all my favorite famous poets drumbeats now
wind in sails
lost in the lake
the pain and deep hole
in my mouth culls the layers falling away floating darkly
after osseous surgerycold Wind in my gengive gingivitis car honk
seizures in the night
To no buff muscle asses hookup from GrindrThe wind in sails
of night poets
Komunyakaa / Forché so nice no ice
or acetaminophen no substitution
I awe you an email a text aphasia
The biopsy appointmentI’m not ready for a long visit to Ljubljana yet or death
Mr. Toma alaman dead in a few months still books coming out long paper Covid.