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-
in the marble
fountains or smoked
in the lobby bar,
to the death
of Il Duce. The ballrooms
with shoes and women
their dark lips, corks
& machine guns
in the valleys. Piano,
Forte, I panted
aloud to no one.
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.
Waking upon the glum
I said it: Do it,
that thing, again.
midnight, a factory-dark
bedroom. Up in the attic
lurked a Styrofoam
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—
center of all things—
for a sign, I took
the matter as closed.
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
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.