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.