Peter Ramos

Five poems

Con La Mosca

 

Then I woke blink­ing

up at the top

 

of the moun­tains

in Frascati’s Grande

 

Hotel while the dead

aris­to­crats played homo-

 

erot­ic foot­sy

in the mar­ble

 

foun­tains or smoked

in the lob­by bar,

 

drink­ing Sambuca

to the death

 

of Il Duce. The ball­rooms

clacked expen­sive­ly

 

with shoes and women

with pow­dered

 

cleav­age puck­ered

their dark lips, corks

 

& machine guns

pop­ping off

 

in the val­leys. Piano,

piano, mez­zo-

 

Forte, I pant­ed

aloud to no one.

Master Bedroom

A cleaned-up coun­try sleeps

beneath Sputnik and all

the crown mold­ing. Too dark

to see the wall-to-wall plush,

the wash­er-dry­er units and lat­est

immac­u­late plas­tic vac­u­um.

We dream togeth­er & there we go.

 

The peel­ing wall­pa­per skin heals,

ther­mo­stat stops click­ing; the sump-pump

vom­its with greater reas­sur­ance.  Now

a field mouse gets into the heat­ing ducts;

the ceiling’s cracked, dust­ing the bach­e­lor-stone.

More spies. Down in the base­ment the geeks in lab coats

work out for­mu­las for hal­lu­cino­genic truth-serum

 

and oth­er gov­ern­ment weapons, scratch­ing their crew-cuts

around the blackboard—equations, aro­mat­ic rings

& free radicals—adjusting, read­just­ing their sto­i­chiom­e­try.

We turn in our sleep, pull each oth­er clos­er. And how

did our grand­par­ents get in? They linger at the table,

dish­es put away, fin­ish­ing after-sup­per cock­tails,

the women all jit­tery from an afternoon’s worth

 

of Dexatrim.  The house fills with new­ly­weds,

young brides invis­i­ble to one anoth­er.  Some sneak off

to the dark kitchen to lick ice cream from a spoon

until they fin­ish the buck­et.  Others fetch their hid­den, bat­tered

paper­backs.  Ammonia, syn­thet­ic cit­rus fumes rise up

to our bed­room.  The meat freez­er hums in the base­ment.

A mile above us, a jet scrapes the air.

 

One of the brides comes into our bed­room.

She undress­es and walks to my bed­side,

wear­ing only a gir­dle and con­i­cal “pointy-cup” brassiere.

Pulling the cov­ers down, she removes her panties

and slow­ly strad­dles me.  Produces a com­pact and opens it.

She rubs the foam-tipped appli­ca­tor over the square

crim­son shades of pressed pow­der, then tells me

 

to open my mouth. I do.  Meanwhile, the young jet pilot

appears on my wife’s side in his skin-tight flight suit.

When he touch­es her, she feels the pow­er of that glo­ri­ous machine, alu­minum sheathed rap­tor, beak-nosed, sleek, as it lifts up & up like a dream, thrust­ing, tear­ing into the sun, obliv­ion

at the pilot’s fin­ger­tips, skull-press­ing super-son­ic grav­i­ty until

it reach­es that breath­less apex, stalls, then rock­ets back

 

to earth, scream­ing, blood thud­ding the tem­ples, sky

& land whirring togeth­er, altime­ters rac­ing, every dial

out of whack.  Those eggheads, what did they think,

open­ing the vials and wait­ing for those first faint,

baf­fling vapors?  Our chil­dren are asleep,

their cheru­bic mouths irre­sistible.

Me Scared

 

Waking upon the glum

I said it: Do it,

that thing, again.

 

Later, moon­less

mid­night, a fac­to­ry-dark

bed­room.  Up in the attic

 

lurked a Styrofoam

head, anony­mous

wig-stand. I knew it,

 

the very thought

pinned me in,

prick­led me. Outside

 

for­ev­er ran the street.

For years it stayed

with me, inside, out

 

of the light. I took

that manikin head

fright­en­ing white

 

cen­ter of all things—

for a sign, I took

the mat­ter as closed.

Emily’s Bedroom

 

Into the mind’s pur­ple, hov­er­ing

plum­met­less, I’m fit

to see every direc­tion tonight,

to wind up the windy futile and map,

chart, com­pass the heart.

If only day were this lux­u­ry: night,

night—hours of loud

invis­i­ble rain.

Eclogue with Hugo

 

Swing briefly through.  You’ll pay

for such swing­ing, nei­ther alone

nor wel­come. If drunk or out

 

by the shut­down mills,

hand your kiss to the cashier.

Take the pet­ty change and release

your plans. Be pri­vate if you weep.

 

The booze here cuts so pre­cious­ly

it brings your long-lost broth­er out

or a fight. Leave sto­ries

or mon­ey. You won’t believe

how lit­tle they need you.

 

Nothing improves. The downed

bod­ies can’t be sliced

down.  The hori­zon peels open

with pho­ny billboards—faded

 

cars, bad lawyers & dis­con­nect­ed

num­bers.  These moody drunks you’re drawn to

unaccountably…what do you want,

any­way? You know this place: here

the wrong words cost your teeth.

~

Peter Ramos’s poems have appeared most recent­ly in The Cincinnati Review, Colorado Review, Puerto del Sol, Slipstream, and ELJ.  Nominated for a Pushcart Prize, Peter is the author of one book of poet­ry, Please Do Not Feed the Ghost (BlazeVox Books, 2008). Television Snow, his newest col­lec­tion of poet­ry, is pub­lished by Back Pages Books.