h o m e........
p a s t   i s s u e s....
s u b m i s s i o n s....
l i n k s

 

 

.........
DOROTHY BARRESI



...........
TONGUE STUD


  

            for Dante

 

I

Sparks a tear, titanium.
Word tack. No
marital diamond: industrial
boot
in the plump brook,
every word 
damning and
only a tad
infected.

Oyster
pierced to plush—
out of season,
too young? Poisoned?

Paraclete at the door, no-nacre pearl, leech
gatherer
tossing shucked
angels
at the aroused crowd, steel
clit for carousing
and drooling
to look
this good-bad,  a fuck-
all ball
bearing
might pain away
pain?
                                                                                                           
I thought I knew you.                                                                        
I thought I had you                            

pegged, my dear 
idea of you,
my doll.

 

II

Your tongue your tongue your pretty
irreversibly
staked and martyred—

now that the braces
are down,
does your meteor
taste of mettle
or guile? Tungsten
nettled by first sex?
(even post-punk
Jesus knows
nailed barely licks
the grave).

Oh swell.

Adolescence
is mal carne
with secret sauce
and  a blistered robin’s egg
ready to suck us
right back
through its blue hole:

gall, certainty, reckless and future
suffering. Son,
since it will not spare the rod                  
to spoil us
I confess
you do not lack for look.

Lantern
with one
ember, one
rock of hash
to burn the whole
nest down.
I thought I was young once, too.

I dreamed you
passed right through me. 

 





...........

PENSION

  

Death’s first cousin, once removed.
Lucky bullet I keep
in the pocket closest to my heart

until Republicans throw a Bible at it, I suppose.  
I wish they’d just bite it.

“Give a man a free hand
and he’ll put it all over you,” Mae West said,
pulling down as much—more!—

than William Randolph Hearst
in 1935.  Granddaughter
Patty H. was liberated from her locked closet

to pull bombs and plant bank jobs
forty years later,
not another  heiress in a vicious wig digging Che,

but one more
member of the profanum vulgis clocking in, commuted,
then out—all the way

to Westchester County’s radical charity wing. Pension,
will you die for me?
I have no prole bodyguard to marry!

No proof
I’d recognize you in your state-sanctioned negligee.
Ghost of a rumor,

blind albino inchworm
eating dirt and  paper statements for thirty years
locked in the vault of my last name,

nourishing the same old shit that passes
for reform,
the State can’t keep its hands off me!

“Divide years of service
by a factor we now call “unsustainable outlay.”
Bingo.

I wish I knew my worth. Could calculate
each paycheck’s cost
going forward, as we like to say.

Mae West
banked on her well documented bust—that bomb,
Sextettein her late eighties,

so disoriented she could only be shot
from the waist up
while an assistant crawled under her dress

to steer that staggered effigy
toward a mark
she could no longer see.

My hands shake minutely. My comfort shoes
are lined with memory  
foam made from mummy powder—not really,

but my kid 
goes to a famous college where professors
teach by wafting through a classroom once a week. Pension,

forget the inchworm crack;
I was showing off.
Delirious from steering last night’s late remedial Great Books class.

If you are still there, listening
(clearly I’m bugged;
I’ve heard your transubstantial clicks

at the end of my line),
I’m still your biggest fan.
I’ll go to Comic Con and scream your superheroic name

raw for hours if that will please you.
I’ll join your doomsday cult, take minutes
at every meeting. Pay pay pay dues.

Whatever future loyalty disburses
your mild fractions 
upon my release, I accept.

 If I can just keep working,
you will save me. 


 




...........  

BIO: Dorothy Barresi is the author of four books of poetry: American Fanatics, Rouge Pulp; The Post-Rapture Diner (winner ofan American Book Award); and All of the Above. She is the recipient of two Pushcart Prizes and Fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the North Carolina Arts council. Her poems have appeared in numerous journals including Poetry, Ploughshares, and The Kenyon Review. She is a Professor of English at Cal. State University, Northridge.






 

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