where ever you are--here,
tonight, gazing across this
Malibu canyon--or there,
thirty-six years ago, sitting at
the kitchen table, your open face
reflected in the silver of cans
left over from a war, the wolf
in your belly already growling
for golden peach halves bobbing in
sweet syrup even as your uncle
took each round tin out of the box
and stacked them on your mother’s
table--say that even when you were
alone, later, in the dark kitchen,
shaking each to solve their mystery,
that even when you opened the one
you were sure held fruit and found
instead what you hated most--lumpy,
yellow, creamed corn--you ate it anyway--
say that in this moment so long gone
you see your life, each day peach gold
or corn yellow, nights devoured like
sugared plums or endured spoon
by spoon swallowing a black mush
salted with stars--say that this
is the best there is and so you’ll
have it--say it and eat it and say it
till there is nothing left to say.
Mornings I go Polish, potato pancakes and dark humor,
sausage and Symborska, laughter like a mountain stream
trickling through blue shadow, Milosz’ rooster singing
the earth’s terrible waking.
What is the day breaking sunny-side without a word?
What is the work waiting, the face coming down the stairs,
the moon melting in the mouth of clouds? What good are
the songs if not to sing?
Afternoons I picnic lightly, lie under an umbrella brushed
with clouds, nibble on greens of watercress, lady fern
and haiku, slices of orange and Basho, the world in a
palm of shimmering pond.
A thrush trills from a cherry tree. A white lilac breathes
a sweet bouquet. Prayer flags flutter blessings to the sun.
I doze, dream perhaps, turn hawk, wing, glide silently,
wantonly through the dusk.
Evenings I dine on halved moons, the darker side of
absence. Through the window, Transtrommer’s train,
heavy with burdens, waits. Vallejo passes by with a
loaf of bread, weeping.
Dark matter swallows the light, burns with unrequited
desire, night not night but unending shadow, I black hole
to my day. I spoon soup, stew, see a cow still as a boulder
eaten by a school of stars.
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rg cantalupo is a poet, playwright, filmmaker, novelist, and director. His work has been published widely in literary journals in the United States, England, and Australia.
The poems that follow are powerful evidence that Poetry Speaks Back to Hunger!