Joseph De Quattro
I am a published Pushcart-nominated fiction writer with an MFA from Bennington College. This is my first poetry publication. I have immense respect for poetry and what it can do on the page, and if I had the choice to attend a reading of a fiction writer or a poet I would choose the latter. I am working on a new novel at the moment, a draft of which I hope to complete by 2015.
She asked me to meet her parents
so I said sure I would
and when her father got a look at me
he decided we needed to talk, just the two of us,
and so I followed him through the den
plaid furniture and curtains
chintz and knickknacks
and the middle daughter only a year
or two younger with short shorts
and these long legs watching The Bachelorette,
and while her father was telling me
what a good girl he had and how
he only wanted the best for her
implying—only implying—that I wasn’t,
I got to thinking about American reality
and the new American dream
and about all that plaid
and cheap stuff in the next room
feeling there was no place for it, feeling outraged,
(but then who was I, who was I—
what right did I—of all people—have?),
and after dinner her mother asked
if I wanted dessert and I said sure
but didn’t touch any of the pie
only went on thinking about all
that plaid and cheap stuff in the den
and what was on the television
and how I might never have a den
and how I hadn’t seen the sun in
California since I was a kid but how I knew
nevertheless that it was a different kind of sun
than what people in Pennsylvania knew,
out night and day, burning, never out,
and sitting there I wondered how many
potholes there were between me and Southern California--
a hundred thousand, a million?--
and when I started throwing plates, the daughter,
the one from the den with the legs,
she was terrified but smirking a little, too,
and couldn’t stop herself from taking photos
with her phone, for evidence surely, but probably
also for Instagram or Facebook,
and somehow I got out, showed myself truly out,
her father’s satisfaction despite this scene rising, rising,
spreading behind me, and I drove off fast, spitting gravel,
though eventually slowed down to take in the quiet suburb,
so quiet as if no one lived in these giant mortgages
barely a light on, the only sign of life
the lumpy black plastic garbage bags with their red ties
lurching toward the road at the ends of driveways
looking like vultures perched in waiting.
Vitality in Nature
The heaviness of one thing
Carried out completely
In tiger or grizzly,
Such a heaviness
Impossible to fathom now
In human form.
With what today
We might consider
Heaviness of tiger or grizzly,
But O how we should long,
Open our arms and long,
Long for such a thing
To descend once more, return.
The sound can’t have come from here
For there is no doorbell.
If you want entrance you have to knock,
Knuckles, gloved or otherwise, on wood.
But something, a single off-key note
Breaks the silence and is gone.
Perhaps the subletter above me.
He wears monogrammed shirts, salmon-colored Bermuda shorts.
Bald but much younger than me. I have a careless aging man’s
Full head of hair, little different than when I was ten,
That people find off-putting when they discover how old I really am.
I don’t know him, this subletter. Maybe he’s taken up the xylophone.
I know he likes to move furniture. All hours of the night
The sound of geometric shapes moving across the
Wooden floor. Maybe to make room for a giant xylophone,
For it sounded like that, one errant note,
Though really it sounded more like the doorbell from another place,
Brooklyn, another time, Park Slope, where I was
So miserable. Brooklyn. I should have embraced it more
And found something, because it seems everyone who goes to
Brooklyn eventually finds something, even those who don’t.
We all go through Brooklyn, our mothers, our sisters,
Their daughters and sons, the ones living in Omaha and
Des Moines, Spain, even the ones who’ve never been to Brooklyn.
We all go through Brooklyn, America.
©2014 Joseph De Quattro