Poetry: Mario Vitale

Mario Vitale

Thanksgiving Dinner

Home for the holiday from New Orleans,
with Mother and Father at the tiny
drop leaf, brown rosewood, mahogany
table with the gold, grinning claw feet;
Father, choler- red-in the-face, short-
sleeved white shirt and cane, says the blessing
as Mother brings in the turkey and cranberry.
Then Mother asks, " Won't you have more ?' and father :
"Do you think Moll Flanders was a whore ?"

(I have suffered and bleached my hair blond. )
I am silent before their replies.
Mother sighs. "I can scarce speak to her."
And Father, too, quotes Shakespeare. (I am thin
as paper and the rose- colored bowl
of blown glass sitting on the silver stand,
half- filled with water. )

Waiting for you to find a place

Once I had this fanciful idea of recording
the silence in each great cathedral
and marketing these...

As you pull open the worn and squeaky door
there's a strange moment of apprehension as if
you're not sure what will greet you - a fullness
or an emptiness; a football-stadium roar
or a silence; an earfull of praise or
a mindfull of questions...

but the first step inside, and a silent gasp -
it's bigger inside than outside...
and the sound of your steps soars to the high
indescribably glorious roof like a
small bird looking for an escape.

so that you'd like to sing a note or two
to hear them repeated by those
invisible angels of the echo, waiting poised
in the stoniness of the walls and roof
like the mountain cliffs and valleys
from whence the stone was dragged
by devotion.

and you feel an intruder into the space of history
waiting for you to find your place.

How wonderful if at this moment, history unreeled;
played itself backwards; and as the years rolled back,
the cathedral nave would fill with the quietly respectful
devout. Then back again, and the voices would be more raw,
rich with the earth they'd just been tending.

Would the praise, to our ears, sound more heartfelt?
we'll never know.
Reel back again to that almost
unimaginable scene - the walls rising, still part built;
the clambering masons, chisels singing on the stone,
lifted only a little lower than the angels
on wooden planks on slender wooden scaffold,
the squeal of pulleys, the sudden silence of tools
and the call for the master mason;
and up there where the roof is still blue-grey sky,
the occasional bird from an optimistic nest
built the year before in the part-built spire, fluttering,
searching for a crumb or two from
the mason's heady meal

as birds may wheel again over half-there walls
when please God no the roof falls in and
respectful visitors walk down the tidy gravelled path
where once the aisle was walked, bowed head and singing,
but now so neatly grassed where pews and praise once stood,
remarking out aloud or in their heart
how the silence is, still, living, there.

Hampton Beach 

The smell of fresh fry doe
Time had elapsed playing at the casino
Fresh lobster with a side order of fries
Those spacious wonderful sky's
Down at the shell the continental were playing
A walk by the lady of a statue in waiting
Flip flops and the sound of laughter
A playground for kids in the middle
The boardwalk with seagulls flocking over head
Fire works in the midnight air with flames

The Poor Man

Today I stand on the outskirt of town
shiny brow
take out the towel
a decorated mast
to overcome each task
the gift of liquid courage
lines being drawn in the sand
the poor man
distance himself on the street
pan handle his way
curiosity sets in
someone hands him a big ten
equate logic for fear
all draw nearbegs for his next meal
unusual sex appeal
columns of sand when to understand

Dancing upon a limb 

remember me among the sea so faithfully we must agree

through shadows peak along the path in the forest
a spotted owl in a tree on the path a grey fox
caress a lavender flower the braided tapestry of the sun
shouts of laughter from within a pull of the heart

dancing through a limb on the tree must humbly agree
the brigade of silence attacks the meager senses
alone I sat once again within my thoughts
thinking of that spotted owl how it quivers

the cordial tap of dander fast approaching
with cosmic wings caught in flight

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