Interrogation at the Grassy Knoll:
November 22, 1963
Who are you guys? We’re from the CIA.
And you? I’m Lucien Sarti from Marseilles.
What about you swarthy types? Who, us?
We’re Cuban exiles, and we won’t discuss
The reason why we’re here. And how about you?
I’m sent by Sam Giancana and his crew.
And you? J. Edgar Hoover is my chief.
And you there, fella? Clay Shaw has a beef
With JFK, and that’s why I’m around.
And you two guys there, squatting on the ground?
Wall Street and the oil-rich tycoons
Paid our way here. What about you goons?
Fidel Castro and the Revolution
Must be defended. This is the solution.
And you guys? We were sent by LBJ—
That snotty Harvard brahmin’s in his way.
And you there, buddy? Santo Trafficante
Wants to send down to the hell of Dante
That little Irish prick. Man, what a mob!
So much muscle just for one small job!
And all you others, crowding in the aisles?
E. Howard Hunt, Frank Sturgis, Jimmy Files,
David Atlee Phillips, Chauncey Holt…
Enough already! I’m about to bolt.
You sure there’s room behind this picket fence
For all of you to shoot? It makes no sense
For me to hang around and spoil the fun.
Hey fella—who are YOU? And where’s your gun?
Me? I’m Oswald, and I’m gonna split—
It looks like you don’t need me for the hit.
Sine Cerere et Libero friget Venus.
The centaurs gather for a feast
Before the foot of Jason’s throne,
Inviting friends who are half-beast
(The satyrs). Laden tables groan
With fig trees’ summer-ripened fruit,
The olive cracked, and wet with oil—
Warm loaves of bread, benignly mute,
Green produce of the living soil,
Fresh eggs and nutmeats, apples, grapes,
Hyblaean honey, wine, and cheese
Pressed into wicker basket shapes
By unkempt, savage Cyclopes.
Wild maenads, hair in disarray,
Contribute to the rustic board
The bloodied limbs of luckless prey
Dismembered for their Bacchic Lord.
Amazons are also guests
With cruel barbed arrows and a bow
And quiver strapped across smooth chests
Where once there rose a breast of snow.
Cybele’s gelded troop has come
(Emasculated priestlings all)
With sistrum, flute, and throbbing drum
To dance in frenzy, then to fall
With wolfish hunger on the food.
All present swill and gorge with glee—
Centaurs, maenads, and the brood
Of satyrs. Soon the revelry
Stirs up libido’s sleeping snake.
The Amazons are hot and wet—
The maenads’ lust is wide awake.
There is no dainty etiquette
In what comes next. The rigid prongs
Of centaurs swive the maenad crew,
While satyrs leap on Amazons
And pump them till their loins turn blue.
Cybele’s priests observe and weep
As if their wounds were made afresh.
The Cyclopes, in drunken sleep,
Have dreams of Galatea’s flesh.
Don’t Become the Crazy Old Cat Lady
You’ve got too many of the filthy things:
Flea-bitten bags of fur, half streaked with mange,
Tiptoeing on your kitchen counter. Hell,
There’s cat hair everywhere. You can’t sit down.
And God, that stench—ammonia’s pungency
Mixed with the reek of dried, forgotten turds.
What is your problem, woman? What sick need
Compels you to house useless, feline strays?
You’re still young, honey—there’s a chance for you,
But take it now. For if you hesitate
I see distinctly what the future holds:
You in a flowered granny skirt, unwashed,
And straw sun-hat, bedraggled, broken-brimmed,
Plodding along in sneakers smeared with grime,
Pushing a supermarket cart piled high
With kitty litter, cat food bought in bulk,
Trudging the aisles and mumbling to yourself—
Everyone gives you leeway as you pass.
Propped by the register, the checkout girl
Gazes in boredom at her manicure
As you stand there splayfooted, frizzy-haired,
Dithering in an absentminded daze
While out of a tatty purse you dredge up dimes.
American Air Raid
America is the Great Satan.
One night of moonless terror, great Lucifer’s broad wings
Rose up in smoky billows from the flame of hellish things:
The pyres of the Ganges, the ovens of the camps,
The smokestacks of Chicago and the trashcans of the tramps.
They turned and swooped like falcons upon the victim earth—
Brought shadows of disease and grief, of destitution, dearth,
Of unexampled murder, atrocity full blown—
Whatever pain could touch us at the soul or at the bone.
They left behind them weeping, the groans of broken men,
The shrieking of the wounded at their mangled flesh. And then
The wings sank back to darkness, like adders to their holes,
Where devils are inured and deaf to screaming human souls,
And where no breath of music, no lilting plaint of lyres,
No harmony of voices from the archangelic choirs,
No seven spheres in concert, no chiming of a bell
Can break the mirthless silence at the icy core of hell.
Copyright © Joseph Salemi 2012