Louis Gallo

 

Banquet

My sister calls and we chat
the usual business,
family, how we still miss Dad . . .
overtures to the real talk
which, when it comes,
drenches us with foreboding
familiar as rain.
Why, she asks, do I feel
nothing but remorse?
I describe my dream
of our bounteous dead
assembled at a long banquet table:
Meem curses her brittle feet,
Edna munches a slab of pound cake
wet with confectioner's sugar;
MaMaw scolds her husband John
for not talking to her
as he sucks his cigar
and blows a perfect blue ring;
Philip and Edwin shuffle the cards,
Julie's eyes twinkle like marbles,
the rest laugh, chatter and eat.
When I enter the room
they stand arm in arm and sway,
nodding--some even wave.

My sister says nothing at first,
a glacier rising from her silence.
It's creepy, she finally sighs,
Iím glad I forget my dreams.
I want to tell her it was no dream
but laugh instead, change the subject,
sweat it out on my own.



 

BAYOU ROAD, 1953

At the market
stout black ladies
chuckle and whoop
as the boy ties
their birds' feet
with electrical tape
and hooks a loop
onto the rim
of the rusty drum.
The ladies pause
when he cups the heads
with his steady hand
and slices them off
in almost feline swoops
Headless birds
flap like palmettos
not quite knowing
they're dead until
the ladies resume
their uproar
and shuffle home
clutching
to their breasts
warm bundles
wrapped in
waxed paper





2030

The usual scientists report that in
the year 2030 a massive unidentified
object may strike the earth, causing
untold mayhem. Probably an asteroid,
the object might also be one of our
own junked booster rockets.



As if things ever changed.
Lear bundling Cordelia in his arms,
Ozymandias, king of kings, the bunion
on his big toe poking out of sand.

Say I'm the sole target . . .
Iíll lure that careening thing
straight into my heart,
which, upon impact,
will spew flurries of postcards
throughout the universe:
Wish you were here!





DESCARTES ENTOMBED

When I don't think
I am not, thus when I sleep,
since I am not thinking,
I am not.
Where'd I go? I came back
when the rooster crowed.
A rock doesn't think
therefore it isn't
and yet on its notness
I stub my great toe.
I'm so wise
to think all this all up,
which doesn't go away
when I am not.
If I am not
when I sleep,
how about when I'm dead?
Since my thought
resounds on this
dusty page,
in a way, I am.
The formula
assures that
and ergo countless other crap
we could almost eat
with or without gravy.




DOMESTIC VIOLINS


she lies in unfocused languor
sprawled like mist across the sofa
Iím late, I know, always late
thereís so much breeze in this house
not that Iíve been anywhere that counts
down at Cosmoís or the Hot Spot
back in 1965 or 69 and 72, 83, 97 . . .
some sizzling dive
I have matches to prove it
but they donít burn
worth a lot now, she says
and she knows about value
Petty girl on the back cover
Iím fifty-four years old
and feel geological
next to her, half my age--
what a good thing
to run my fingers across the silk robe,
warm thigh, oh so necessary
as the gusts intensify
would you like some tea? she asks
rousing from her dream like cypress
out of miasma
soon candied sassafras steam
festoons into my nostrils
and I know this is how life begins
and once ended

 

Copyright ©  2009 Louis Gallo

 

Louis Gallo's work has appeared in American Literary Review, Glimmer Train, Berkeley Fiction Review, Rattle, Contemporary American Voices, Poetrymagazine, New Orleans Review, Texas Review, Missouri Review, The Ledge (pushcart nominee), Raving Dove (pushcart nominee), Xavier Review, bartleby-snopes, storySouth, Oregon Literary Review, Tampa Review, Poetry Midwest, Wide Awake in the Pelican State (LSU anthology) and many others.  He was born and raised in New Orleans and now teaches at Radford University in Virginia.  Two poetry chapbooks of his are forthcoming in early 2010.