Vincent Francone, Winter 2017

Library Angels

 

Lately I’ve come to the fulcrum

and been aside too far.

 

Puffy-faced in shibboleth, I walk from the Chicago stop

into the fusillade of lakewind.

 

My morning is bereft.

The ice in my lungs talismans smoker’s years

 

and the library door is too heavy today.

There is no respite, though I’d likely sleep

 

if I dare in the stacks next to my office,

curl up with a tome for pillow

 

my clothing at once too meek,

my skin the paper,

last night’s bellyfull of

soup kitchen kindness via church dictum,

 

my head aware of quiet hours

one ear alert for the librarian

 

coming to plug the shelfgaps and scatter

the unruly of Streeterville drawn

 

into this warmth, the glow of fluorescents

angels at dawn

 

 

All These Women

 

Good morning to you, Mr. Harrison

who died without ado though

I was more than a little taken aback

when I read the news—on my smartphone

on the toilet—and couldn’t wait to tell someone

specifically my wife who has read you

and loves what Hollywood did to your novella

though I recall all the women I knew who loved

the way you wrote women

such insight—was this the product of sustained attention

or storybook love or were there women from the beginning

cooing around you as you squirmed in Michigan grass

women who taught you to be among them

and then men who taught you to drink and fight

against the bullies who saw in your glass eye

their own fallow guts.

Were the cocaine and the bottle to blame,

or the outlets of someone who understood

too well his wife and his daughters?

How did you cultivate this ability

without sacrificing the grand posture?

I’m thinking of my mother

In her car leaving to work

and me with her ex-mother-in-law

cooking oatmeal and yelling her daughter’s name

the staid voices, the way they all seemed so light and loud

all these women I have

to tell me what you apparently knew

I’m walking then with them

to school where nuns will scare us all to death.

 

Perfect Child

 

The dream ended without pomp.

There was little else to sift

just fragments of some sunken dirge

wayward missives, my mind taking out

the trash of whatever beset the day.

 

Yet I felt more unease in the dark

than any boyhood premonition

the certainty that a grizzly, dumb

destiny awaits, only patient as long

as the night, and the night was still

 

clinging to the side of the hull

absent more than a single purpose.

And there was nothing else to do

but relent, cry, accept the perfect child

the nightmare had me.  

 

Voyeur

 

As a boy, I was told that God was omnipresent

watching my every endeavor,

to watch myself, guard against the impure

act or thought, it made no difference—

however small it may seem

nothing escapes the Supreme Being.

 

How to react to God the spy?

No mention of why exactly

he needed to know my activity

real or imagined, one and the same,

apparently both causes for shame.

 

How else to react?  I placed out of sight

those thoughts I wanted to conceal

in my mind’s bottom drawer

and hid them from the omnipotent voyeur

unconcerned with how I feel

and how it felt to get up to

what I got up to at night,

which felt oh so good.

 

Admission

 

If you said you’d kill yourself

before the week was through

I’d feel the conflict

of a whippoorwill

or of the hand that pilots

 

a drone and considers

every remote dot

weighs their sentience

ponders the lot

and passes sentence

 

 

 

 

Vincent Francone is a writer from Chicago whose memoir, Like a Dog, was published in the fall of 2015.  He won first place in the 2009 Illinois Emerging Writers Competition (Gwendolyn Brooks Award) and is at work on a collection of poems and stories. Visit  www.vincentfrancone.com to read his work or say hi.

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