inertia1

IVY, LATE SUN, WITH FETTUCINE

There is art on these walls, as if
windows could be improved on—
Dufy's riotous, variegated fields,
flashes of dancers by Degas,
posters bruiting shows of shows.

Yet as we wait for water to boil
for pasta, as chicken simmers
in Pinot grigio, lemon, basil,
I want the tongue of summer sun
on green afternoon leaves.

Now I know what ivy has tried
all my life to mean, and gold.
What, on a day so pure, can compete
with green? Yet we insist on not
leaving well enough alone. Years

I've stained the brightness of paper
with dark words, when I have
love, ivy's newest hues,
rooms and rooms of nothing but
everything there is, light, true light.



WEED KILLER / KILLER WEED

"I'm not saying it's safe for humans. I'm not saying it's unsafe
for humans. All I'm saying is that it makes hermaphrodites of frogs."


-Dr. Tyrone B. Hayes, researcher,
quoted in The New York Times


Now this, a poison tale of handsome frog
who halfway morphs into fair princess,
maiden toad who bathes, primps

before the glass, grows her own May pole
to stroke, to moan her own name over.
The family tree's top branch: Mr. Eve,

who'll never know another naked one
or sin with fruit, or argue who's on top.
It's Atrazine, a wondrous elixir,

human herbicide of love, magic bean
that grows a dewy dell to fit the male,
a hard-guy thing for that one special gal.

Now every man is Mr. Right, each woman
the Girl of My Dreams. Two hearts beat
as one: my cells divide but in reverse.

Love thunders the blood, the very air
that's everywhere around me, water
in the ground, fluff and wisps of cumuli

and cirrus, rains small and great,
the stars and moon that shine for me.
My God I love me now. Yes I do.

I'm the pleasure principal. I'm
the snake devouring my tail, eye-apple,
honeybunch. O sweetie pie of me!




SIX STABBED AFTER ARGUMENT
AT BABY SHOWER


Not since Fight breaks out at funeral
has a headline stuck so deep. It's the duty
of the news to bring us up suddenly,

make us groan Oh no, another thread
of social fabric rent, stained, bloody.
What in hell? Baby showers, even more

than bridal, should engender smiles,
oohs, aahs, booties of precious memory.
Grandmother knew who'd given what

to her babies and to theirs, shower by shower,
remembered for decades who was generous
nearly to a fault, who had sauntered in

bearing a pretty little package of shame.
Grandfather would intone the latest outrage
as I sorted baseball cards on the floor.

Listen to this one, Sonny boy. To him
the news was One damn thing after another.
I learned early to shake my head slowly

from side to side, frown an adult frown
at the rustle of paper, the ink that stained
my fingers every paper route morning,

as flaming airliners plummet, towns
disappear under raving rivers, babies,
livestock rolling away in brown spume,

as guests scatter at the flashing blade
that strikes at civilization, slicing up
pretty paper, pink and blue.



David Citino teaches at Ohio State, where he has recently been named Poet Laureate of the University. He is the author of twelve books of poetry, most recently The News and Other Poems (Univ. of Notre Dame Press). He is the contributing editor of The Eye of the Poet: Six Views of the Art and Craft of Poetry (Oxford Univ. Press). Paperwork: Selected Prose will appear in autumn of 2003 from Kent State Univ. Press.

Editor's Note: Our friend, David Citino, passed away in 2005.