Poetry Suite by Victor Infante

Editor Carrie Seitzinger, Poetry, September 5th, 2013

Mysteries and marvels, sober opium dream...

poems by victor infante
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

The Revelation of Kate Gosselin, as Revealed to John Connor from the “Terminator” Movies
(After the painting “Shoot the Stork” by Irving Phillips)

You speak of futures
and I’ll speak of storks –
ugly birds, descending
with a lumbering grace,
soaring thermal currents,
angel wings spread wide,
casting the sun into shadow.

Men with cameras came and built
a house composed of camera lenses.
They tattooed Nielsen ratings
onto my children’s necks.

My marriage became
cracked wallpaper,
discarded in the exodus
of birds and cameras
pushed by the wind
to some other miracle,
leaving me dancing
to hold their focus.

You’re speaking future tense
while I’m dissolving
into strangers’ living rooms –

you, oracle, for whom the future is pencil lead;
you, with Apocalypse dripping from your tongue:

When you vanish into the future,
please, leave the gun behind.

+ + +

 

Four Ways of Looking at Lincoln
After “Abe,” by Louis Swinand

1.

History is a jangling of pocket change.
……..Valueless, left fallen indiscriminately on sidewalks.
Precious metals abandoned for cheaper alloys;
……..lighter than it used to be.

2.

The word “abolitionist” becomes
……..Cain’s mark; In Chicago, he turns away
……………from the whip marks searing
………………….freed slaves’ chest.

He prevaricates as Frederick Douglass
……..clucks his disapproval. He castigates slavery
…………….while refusing to publicly declare
…………………..any black man his equal.

He weathers the storm of Stephen Douglas,
……..who speaks of inferior races, of Providence
……………for those of European descent, spurring
…………………..a cancer that splits a country’s bones.

3.

This odd convergence, when expedience and moral certitude
……..coalesce into the perfect sword. Freedom is a birthright
……………and a weapon, “Glory! Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!”

4.

My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still;
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will;
The ship is anchor’d safe and sound, its voyage closed and done;
From fearful trip, the victor ship, comes in with object won.

 

+ + +

Great Astronomical Discoveries Lately Made
After the Great Moon Hoax of 1835

1. Virginia, 2011

Batboy leans against the Camaro he boosted earlier
and smokes a cigarette, lets carcinogenic fog
………….dance against streetlights,
………….watches it rise to meet the moon.

He was a soldier once, he thinks. It was in all the papers.
Well, just the one. The Weekly World News, but it has readership –
not like those other rags regurgitating City Council minutes
and the high school football scores, the ones which dwindle
………….like embers in the distance – smoldering, irrelevant, gone.

The Weekly World News is different. Only paper brave enough
to tell the truth: that monsters can serve their country, that monsters
can go to war. Not like the clean-cut Fox News soldiers –
………….square-jawed, All-American. Their soldiers are superheroes
………….until they come out gay, until they join an Occupy crowd
………….and are beaten by some jumped up Oakland cop
………….who’s never seen real combat.

That defies the narrative. That’s a little too human
………….for the nightly news at 10.

Batboy flicks his cigarette to street and wanders down the sidewalk.
It was only a joyride. He never meant to keep the car. Just something
………….to get adrenaline pumping. It’ll be in the news again, next week.
………….That paper follows him everywhere, omnipresent as the moon.

He looks to the sky,
thinks “Vespertilio-homo”
and wishes he could fly
further than his tiny wings
………….can carry him.

2. New York, 1835

“Certainly they were like human beings,” writes The Sun, “for their wings had now disappeared and their attitude in walking was both erect and dignified … They averaged four feet in height, were covered, except on the face, with short and glossy copper-colored hair, and had wings composed of a thin membrane, without hair, lying snugly upon their backs from the top of the shoulders to the calves of their legs. The face, which was of a yellowish color, was an improvement upon that of the large orangutan… so much so that but for their long wings they would look as well on a parade ground as some of the old cockney militia.”

Reporter Richard A. Locke puts down the morning Sun
and contemplates his work:
………….Great Astronomical Discoveries Lately Made:
………….By Sir John Herschel, L.L.D. F.R.S. &c.
………….At the Cape of Good Hope
………….[From Supplement to the Edinburgh Journal of Science]

That he had never spoken to the astronomer Herschel
………….was condensation on his morning teacup –
………….easily wiped away. That he had never seen
………….The Edinburgh Journal of Science
………….was little more.

It was enough to give his readers a world
more fantastic than the drudgery of 1835 –
The assassination attempt on President Jackson months old;
………….The U.S. debt at zero – and paper sales
………….not much more.

1835 had been dishwater dull, and still
………….the laborers toiled in the streets;
………….pushing carts, cobbling shoes.

Nothing to recommend
the tedium of 1835, until
………….he gave them golden temples
………….on the moon, until he gave them
………….men with the wings of bats
………….and tailless badgers who walked erect;

Mysteries and marvels, sober opium dream
………….at the other end of nonexistent telescopes.

Locke watches the papers fly
from the newsboys’ hands
and knows he’ll sleep easily,
that he would be the only one
not staring at the moon.

3. London, 1888

A man reads the morning papers
and marvels how they make a mockery of murder;

how they conjure fabrications –
………….that he’s a demon, or a Jew,
………….how he eats the flesh he carves,
………….how he wears a Leather Apron,
………….how he’s an actor in the theatrical version
………….of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

As if it’s not enough that three whores are dead,
………….their bodies hacked and organs mutilated.

He quietly ponders this insufficiency, how it’s not
………….enough to be an honest monster, he must also
………….carve himself into their psyches, too –
………….he feels less, somehow. Insubstantial.

He is disappearing into other people’s fears –
………….intangible as moonlight.

That night, he slices
Catherine Eddows’s kidney from her body,
sends it to Scotland Yard, with a letter.

He addresses it “From Hell,”
………….signs it, “Catch me when you Can.”

He wonders, fleetingly,
“Is this monstrous enough?”

4. The Cape of Good Hope, 1835

John Herchel turns away from the stars
………….and spends some time in botany.

It’s a hobby, he knows – there are stars to catalog,
………….an endlessly unfolding array of nebulae.
………….There are moons, he suspects,
………….surrounding outer planets.

Another newspaperman accosted him
………….with questions of “Vespertilio-homo,”
………….of unicorns and bison on the moon,
………….of his thoughts on the golden temple,
………….of its repercussions.

“It’s repercussions,” he thinks, “is a mummer’s play,”
but he sighs, instead, and once again explains,
that he had written no such papers, that he, like everyone,
………….was a victim of the hoax.

The reporter frowned as though
Herchel had disproved the existence
………….of Father Christmas.

He’s long stopped caring, returning instead
………….to his illustrations of South African plants.

But in his solitude, he glances out the window
………….at the moon that falls alike
………….on Africa and New York City.
………….“So much beauty,” he thinks.
………….“Why can’t that be enough?”

5. London, 1888

The newspaper editor can read
upside-down and backward.

His gaze locks on the metal printing plates –
………….it has to be perfect, more frightening
………….than the other newspapers
………….competing for scarce pennies.
………….It has to be gaslight and spark,
………….for alleys where the moon
………….casts no glow.

The words will be truth once graven in metal. That’s all that matters.
………….“GHASTLY MURDER,” they say, in giant type, then smaller:
………….“Capture of Leather Apron.”

He walks away, and feels his age in his bones. Too old for hot-metal plates
………….too-old to start working mornings.

Absently, he remembers a headline from his boyhood:
………….“Great Astronomical Discoveries Lately Made”

It’s been fifty years, but he thinks about that story, sometimes,
………….how the moon is filled with monsters and bison,
………….living in harmony. He wonders what was inside
………….that temple. He wonders if man will ever
………….really see the moon. He’s afraid it might prove
………….a disappointment.

6. Virginia, 2011

Batboy makes his way to a late-night diner.
………….He knows the waitresses, they know
………….how he likes his coffee. They pay him
………….no mind. No one’s a monster
………….when you serve them every night.

He finds a booth near the window,
one where he can see the moon, shining
in the distance, like some knowable truth.

He’s prone to clairvoyance. The “Weekly”
………….has him call elections, pick the Final Four.
It doesn’t work like that – can’t do it on command –
………….but sometimes, when the moon is full,
He can see the shape of things to come.

Someone’s left a newspaper on the table,
………….and he flips past the war reports,
the stock exchange, the foreclosures and
………….the protests, flips until he finds
a tiny item, buried deep in international news.

A satellite, in disrepair, falling to Earth.
He reads the story and sighs. The moon
………….seems further away than ever.

Doesn’t matter, though. He knows the truth.
………….There are monsters on the moon.

Someday
………….Everyone will see.

 

+ + +

Truths My Dealer Told Me

I.

The band onstage at the Tijuana nightclub
was not Jane’s Addiction, although
they had the same tattoos.
“Nothing’s Shocking” was all over
the radio. I had heard a guy play
“Jane Says” on an acoustic guitar.
It sounded like Peter, Paul and Mary
in his warbling tenor. I found that
shocking, the same way I find
domesticated foxes. The way I’m unnerved
by manicured lawns in planned communities.

II.

The secret to grand-theft Disneyland
is to become a cartoon character, to be garish
as your surroundings. To pile your head
with souvenir hats and stuff your pockets
with plastic remnants of marketing campaigns.
When they catch you — and they will —
they will drag you to the subterranean prison
that Walt built for the eventuality
of civil breakdown, for when the gangs
and Mexicans and Communists march
and the Magic Kingdom is the only bulwark
of Western civilization and values. You
will be paraded in front of three bored kids
who were caught filching candy on Main Street.
You will transform into a cautionary tale, without
the benefit of musical score. There will be
no wacky talking animal sidekick, but afterward
you will be released from the park, exiled and stylish.

III.

You want this to be some Hallmark tearjerker,
but here’s the truth: It started with a Hershey’s bar.
It started with a polar bear hawking Pepsi.
It started with a clown selling burgers.
It started with that “Star Wars” toy you couldn’t afford,
It started with playground ridicule of knock-off robots.
It started with the uncomfortable fit of hand-me-down shirts.
It started with every thing you want lined up across a phone line,
pretty birds in a row, taking to sky at your approach.

IV

There is no reliable narrator.
The man behind the curtain
just wants to chill and watch cartoons.
Give up the ruby slippers.
Take a ride in a balloon.

 

+ + +

poet victor infanteVictor D. Infante is a poet, editor and journalist living in Worcester, Mass. He is the editor of the online literary journal, Radius: Poetry From the Center to the Edge. His poems and stories have been published in numerous periodicals, including The Collagist, Pearl, Chiron Review, Word Riot and The Nervous Breakdown, and anthologies such as Poetry Slam: The Competitive Art of Performance Poetry, Spoken Word Revolution Redux and Aim For the Head: An Anthology of Zombie Poetry. He is the author of City of Insomnia, a poetry collection from Write Bloody Publishing, and a co-editor for the Best Indie Lit New England anthology.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Carrie Seitzinger

Carrie Seitzinger is Editor-in-Cheif and Co-Publisher of NAILED. She is the author of the book, Fall Ill Medicine, which was named a 2013 Finalist for the Oregon Book Award. Seitzinger is also Co-Publisher of Small Doggies Press.
Learn more about her at her official site.