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.