Chisel goodwill into the manifold
of her thumb.
The biggest prayer hitchhiked
sullen lands and the green scrub of lifeline
I've just met her
this balcony morning
barely calling her fool.
Split straw, filthy bathrobe
my unpacked ambition
I want to spit
on the clownish text of
her chosen name
We are bricks of the same building.
She has become a window.
She stood beside the speeding rush of us
white tiers of her dress sweating
under sun, butter cream
in a desert.
She carried no blade into windmills
asked for our names
a gratis wind
to sit and break crust of bread.
No arrogant sentinel dubbed liberty
a simple hello.
We deserve the hides shaken
from our darlings
build children for wars after
seating their families blood-cash at
broken desks with fuck you carved
into false wood.
Our games are horns
locking. There is no music
in this curriculum
so how will we tune the unborn
the cellos in our clear cutting?
The lover's shy barroom introductions
while the train roars on for the shut-eyed.
Today Atlas broke
beneath our unnecessary weight.
The sky is not falling
we have built these buildings too high
over the last dancing fool
stomping his children
for tourist's cameras.
But to walk so blindly that
Too sing that loud in a deaf
symphony of promise over promise
There, 2 bartered rides outside of Istanbul
a white dress makes no apology
held by claw of brush and weed.
1,000 white doves leaning to the wind
dreaming an open plot of sky
calling patiently beneath our roar.
Pippa Bacca was the stage name of an Italian performance artist who, wearing a white wedding dress, attempted to hitchhike from Italy to the Balkans to the Middle East to send a message of peace and “marriage between different peoples and nations.” On April 11th her body was found near a village outside of Istanbul where a man who had offered her a ride had left it after raping and killing her.
The First Stone
They met in town and he asked what time he could pick her up for a burger, a lemon coke with shaved ice, the hulking sunset slipping from his mouth. She didn't know his name, hands tiny aftershocks at his progress. Maybe it was a note in the classroom, the hidden tempo of pencil on notebook paper. It could have been a friends introduction, one who saw two lights in the same pond, cattails and Waxwings clogging the banks.
I know they met, the leeches we pluck as the story is dredged, that my grandmother raised five children alone. Every penny tip counted as she ran the counter of a drugstore, ice cream and cheap perfume for a small town. Imagine the ladies and teenagers covering the dirt for their kept and watered roots. After he landed in washed walls and gowns, she raised her children Catholic at his request and he muttered to the red heat. Her name in his voice threading our porous balance, chattering with our steps.
Shave the ice for cool water. Invite a friend. This has failed. Last night I tied chicken feet with black gingham and tossed them to my horrified neighbors. The custom of sweeping corners, of fatting the cast iron, and the beating of rugs have also failed. I know her eyes were full of hard water, blue waves under a clear sky. I did not know they pried her husband's teeth from her cheek.
My grandmother stopped with the doctors, halted the bleached visits, when he wouldn't acknowledge the children, shook his hollow at them, pulled himself from a god poured into a paper cup. This brute, bar-hopping over swamps and wetlands, treading the Ohio with salted melon on his tongue, a playing card dictated by seasons. The long, stupid days fettered with patching jeans or washing a floor on your knees are given to him like dull, bloodless jewels.
That we never lived where churches grow is not the deepest mound of crow head and catfish bones, the richest dune of gamble to sieve the tin of my family, not the best excavator for a charm pulled from attic, but it's a place where I can touch the bottom and still return. My hands full of matchbooks as souvenirs, logos worn from striking burn. Her eyes were blue. I never saw his but I slip a thumb over my teeth sometimes. My eyes are a color that grows on empty necks. I see you and think, What makes you so safe? How do you live here?
The work of Boston-based poet and performer James Caroline is a rare mix of literary craft and vulnerability. With the intensity of his live shows garnering comparisons to Patti Smith, James has performed on three continents, competed in three National Poetry Slams, and represented the Cantab Lounge in the first ever Individual World Poetry Slam. He has been voted Best Local Author in a Boston Phoenix poll and won multiple Cambridge Poetry Awards for Best Slam Poet, Male and Best Erotic Performance Poet.