Monday, August 12, 2013

A Poem by John Casquarelli

a hundred ways to die in summer longing
for Salvatore
Tuesday, May 28th, 2013
my father enjoyed collecting musical instruments.  he never played any of them.  he just seemed to take pleasure in imagining the music.  my father would also listen to the same four stations on his car radio.  sometimes the last note of your favorite song resonates long after the song is over.
in San Juan
Sammy told a story of a cloud that wept
when it forgot the ocean’s lyrics
if there’s one regret it might be
never having said I understand
there are days I wish for
8-track tapes and a bottle
of Don Q
it’s only a memory if you let me in
arms shake while holding the side bars of his Hospice bed. a tsunami crash that parts every inch of his body with each labored breath. notes that include directions on Xanax, Haldol, morphine, ibuprofen, and oxygen. a comfort pack in the fridge that’s not very comforting, and still no way of knowing how to say goodbye. eventually all palm trees lose their branches.
when Hugh Hefner dies
no one will say he went to a better place
maybe I’ll find the strength
to leave my doubts behind
study stars until they give me an answer
or leave me with new questions
he would leave his bedroom door open just enough to remind me how safe I could feel every time the winds picked up. by no means did he rely on nostalgia to make me lose my sense of time and place. so I waited until he walked past his closet, beyond my vision.  I waited until I began to understand my limitations.
I sit on my father’s shoulders
through years of grey sky wonder
sing a hymn about doves who rise
past whirling winds
to feed a dream’s appetite
it’s so serene when you’re 20000 feet in the air
perhaps gravity will look away
and allow us a few moments of peace
there’s a postcard on his dresser of a sailboat falling off the edge of the world. the setting sun is searching for a short-haired woman holding a lantern. it understands how empty the landscape is when all we do is live in canopic jars.
if an echo could undress a rose bush
it would leave everything unfinished
each window is a letter
about leaving home
if you must dance
do so under a street lamp in January
when the neighborhood girls are watching
we exit I-95 at Hillsboro Boulevard, head east and speak in riddles for awhile. his condo isn’t far away, but we decide to head to the pier instead. the waves are choppy and a couple of teenage surfers are pointing at a section of whitewater, anticipating their next foam climb. I keep staring at the moving waves because they remind me that any moment may be a new discovery.
follow tracks to midnight meditations
reach for hillside country
until we pass outhouses
that line the edge of the fields
somewhere between the pieces
I see the green summer grass
and find you there

John Casquarelli is an English Instructor at CUNY Kingsborough in Brooklyn, New York.  Beginning this fall, he will be directing the poetry club for students at Kingsborough.  John received his M.F.A. in the Creative Writing program at Long Island University.  He was awarded the 2010 Esther Hyneman Award for Poetry.  His work has appeared in several publications including Pyrokinection, Kinship of Rivers, By The Overpass, The Mind[less] Muse, The Poetry Project Blog, The International Rebecca West Society, Having a Whiskey Coke With You, and Napalm and Novocain.  His first full-length book, On Equilibrium of Song, was published by Overpass Books (2011).  When not reading and writing poetry, John can be seen drinking way too much iced coffee.

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