Fall 2012

Table of Contents - Vol. VIII, No. 3


Poetry    Fiction    Translations    Reviews   

Jéanpaul Ferro


In the Life We Imagined For Ourselves

You can sometimes feel yourself falling helplessly,
falling like in a dark dream, dissolving webs of earth
light ejected below you, falling precipitously without
God through the dark skies of the ionosphere,

tumbling, in feats of acrobatics,
cascading fast around a mountain corner
that you had once conquered so perfectly,

all your simple motor skills going first:

all your love,

all your topography,

all the generosity of a winter sky
in mottled sun,

that of your soul pushing forth like sunflowers
through the snow,

head heaving aloft through pale ground,

bursting out in flame, flying glass, a mirror image
of yourself in dark obsidian, breaking apart, ineffectual
remnants of yourself shattering everywhere out into the
infinite distance—

everything that you once were before all the days of
your life began to cross themselves out one by one.


Firdos Square

Not long after Joe returns from Antarctica,
Uncle Sam ships him out to the blood echoes
and splintering stars of Iraq;

dressing him up in official looking ACU’s—
the same beautiful slate gray and desert uniform
every soldier gets docked $76 bucks to wear;

sending him out on patrol, liberator by morning,
foreign occupier by the time he gets back to his
barracks at night,

dust in his spit as he walks down Khulfalfa Street
in the middle of Baghdad with rifle in tow;

his body armor as heavy as a lead jacket,
this constant weightlessness of rattled nerves
banded together in the back of his head—his
fate for being a living and breathing human target
day and night;

all the Iraqi men on pilgrimage beating themselves
in flagellation with sticks over their heads until the
blood and sweat drips down in jewels over the dirt
of the now useless ground,

men and women screaming: No Saddam; No
America! No Saddam; No America!

Insurgents planting bombs along the roadsides,
sending suicide bombers into the markets to kill
women, children, and farmers simply so their
cause of death can make the evening news,

pieces of human wreckage scattered about Iraq
like wooden pieces in a poor child’s old lotto

Joe coming home after two tours of duty; no
parades upon his arrival, no bands welcoming
him home down at the gazebo;

only the golden wheat of Kansas wavering back
and forth right as Joe falls in a heap at the door
of his old grandfather’s place,

arms by his side; the blue, haunted, patchwork
American sky, elaborate in ritual, as though there
is a shaman who commands and hallucinates all
of this when there is no one really there at all.


Life on Mars

In a cone of yellow light the spaceship came over me,
up I was lifted into their city of true believers,

colorless cities of light, spherical with the same oneness
only found in nature, all of our past heroes already there:
Anaïs Nin,
H.P. Lovecraft,
Kurt Cobain;

and they had redwoods and tall waterfalls and orange
hued canyons, deep blue oceans full of whales and mile
long squid,

and in their deep green sky existed their God all of the time,
and I was naked and perfect and unafraid at every turn and

and over the airwaves they had me repeat my lines,
broadcast it out into their perfect minds that could hear
every thought all of the time.

And at night in my new home I lie there awake, staring up
into their bright green sky,

not thinking about God who was right there, but dreaming
about you instead, your naked body clutched tightly up against
my soul that was trembling,

the scent of wood smoke on us like when we were wet and out

dreams of our dog and the ice storm when the electricity went out,
how everything was frozen like platinum;

and you quoted Anaïs Nin right before the power came back on:
We don’t see things as they are, we see things as we are, you

and right then the phone rang as the lights came on up; and it was
your father calling, frantic, to tell you that your mother had just died.


Living A Life At Night

Our nights never crumble,
we like to lick the poetry off each other’s bodies,

the fires burning down near the rivers of Providence,
dancing in the streets like it is a red New Orleans,
jazz piano during the war with Norman Brown on guitar,

oh, oh, oh, she came through my door like it was another day.

I’m a boy at a gun show; my heart skips a beat
when I see that blue/black rifle I can shoot—

Outside, a boy on a motorcycle waves to me. He’s got the
same beautiful face of my older brother who died in 1974.

I follow him home, but he’s got another family with
another name with a war of their own;

so I bring my gun back home, strip you naked
just inside the bathroom door,

read what you wrote on your naked body during the daytime

when you knew that I would need you all night long.


© Jéanpaul Ferro


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