Archive for June, 2013

Death in Cal’well

June 20, 2013


Lately I’ve been watching gangsters die
of cancer on TV. I sympathize.
I’ve got a lot in common with these guys—
the old world gone, this new one doesn’t fly.
It’s getting so Omertà means ugots.
Old loyalties go Hollywood, and men
like Poons LoSapio, the ones-in-ten,
the kings, are dropped like limp forget-me-nots.

It didn’t used to play like this. No bang,
no parting shots. A whimper?—va fangul!
Our boys would go out heavy, nicely dressed
(so, maybe sometimes facedown in braciole…)
But on a couch? Ah, mezzo morte gang,
with you I grow nostalgic and depressed.


Courtesy of Uphook Press/Great Weather for Media (Gape Seed, 2011 anthology)


Song of the Locust

June 13, 2013

By Wayne Fonteix

Did you hear them this summer
Dying in the trees
Vibrating the air
Like some droning power plant
Or flying saucer
Hidden in the woods?
Cicada, Cicada, Cicada

They blackened the trees and sky
In drummed mourning
Ritual high mass,
Blind to the birds, too startled
To feast on this prey
Too new, too holy
Cicada, Cicada, Cicada

They dropped their heavy dirges
Like waves back to Earth
(Just relieved of her
seventeen year pregnancy)
Dull-roaring too loud
To raise our voices over
Cicada, Cicada, Cicada

Unhunted, free, still they die
Still eaten by ants
Black hollow shells left
Whole woods a funeral home
Now still after days
Of timeless lament
Cicada, Cicada, Cicada

Their children, in many Junes
Will also ascend
From the same pocked Earth
Listen, then, they’ll drum for you
Living but to grieve
And return to the grave
Cicada, Cicada, Cicada



Wayne Fonteix (right, above) and I edited Drew University’s literary magazine, Plateau, in 1979/80, our senior year. We closed the book that year with this poem by Wayne. Dr. Robert Ready, Wayne recalls, wrote in the margin, “Depressing. But good,” when the poem was workshopped earlier in the semester. Wayne and I ran into each other two years ago in Frenchtown, NJ. His poem, of course, is from two risings back–that would be 34 years ago! (see below)

old school

A Plague on Edison

June 12, 2013


The ecosphere in Edison is whirring
whirring whirring and the air is thick
with clueless bugs. The sky is blurring blurring

blurring and the summer trees are purring.
Clumsy thumbs on plastic wings fall sick!
The ecosphere in Edison is whirring

whirring and the racket is inuring
us to flapping pratfalls of the quick
and clueless bugs. The sky is blurring blurring

blurring. Crusty sacks of gray are stirring.
Every crack becomes a flutter kick.
The ecosphere in Edison is whirring

whirring whirring whirring, words are slurring,
lips eliding, cars colliding. Flick
the clueless bugs! The sky is blurring blurring.

Seventeen forgotten years spent curing
in the silent dirt have come to dick.
The ecosphere in Edison is whirring.
With clueless bugs the sky is blurring blurring.

Edison, New Jersey
June 12, 2013

Formal Verse Discussed

June 10, 2013

Poet, critic, and linguist John J. Trause and I discuss formal verse in the Poetry Tent at the Books NJ fair in Paramus last Sunday. The Poetry Tent was the rockin’est at the fair, by the by.