Three poems by Frank Montesonti


LOVE POEM! #2

Darling! Remember the night you were so beautiful you made six stoplights flower!
We missed the flight. So we took the train. Tolstoy

liked trains! Tolstoy threw
his heroine under what he loved. Tolstoy
saw a behemoth walking through Russia, over peasants, cold and huge as history, and all I get are these damn trust fund kids outside the bar talking about their plans to go to Buenos Aries!

Someone tell them cupidity sounds more adorable than it is. I wish my chest were a barn so I could run around with a lantern inside me. Without you, the night feels dark
as a cutpurse’s conscious. Love! Show me your hand! I won’t spit in your palm this time. I won’t speak of the dead
          in un-stratified payscales nested soundly in the ground, I won’t demand
to know why pine nuts are so expensive. I won’t collapse! Tonight, standing

by that New York Post newsstand. You look like lessons
for sailing home.

God, did you design that couple making out by the tropical plant, a collapsed lung, the shrimpy tidewaters, the muted church bells of rain on metal trash can lids? Morning-light on your crossword puzzle, four down,

I think is “hurley-burley” for “a commotion”. Darling, where’s that pound of ground beef? I need to judge how much the cat weighs! Leaves fall to the lower-most sadness.

Music when we walk. Would you like to be a name sleuth? Okay, guess my name! Then to the ocean. Bright by watching dark waves! It’s a private party, Seagull.

Even with eyes on both sides of year head,
still, private. You’ve got to believe this world is easy, or it’s so hard to go. Stained-glass moon through oak branches.

Looking at your naked, sleeping body the words “Against Chaos”
appeared on your chest! Outside two albino pigeons rise into God’s blue radar!

The brigand moon.

I sat on your couch and watched the smoke from my cigarette build a little rope to the ceiling.
For a moment felt like a lighthouse, a lighthouse that guards nothing dangerous.

Then you came into the room backlit by kitchen-light, holding a plum and an apple.

O paper ships! If only you suffered from paper fires!

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——

Blackout Chef

I had a friend whose father,
every night, after coming home
from looking for work
would sit down at the kitchen
table and with medical accuracy

pour six shots of vodka
into six glasses and drink them
one per minute. Then he
would stand, open a bottle of wine

and start cooking in his little
basement apartment,
which he rented after the divorce,
until his memory lifted away

like a silk sheet off a lamp.
In the brightness, starved of himself,
he grew so hungry
he would prepare elaborate

meals: New York Strip steaks
a perfect medium,
roasted lamb with rosemary and mint,
tomato and cilantro gazpacho.

He must have staggered through
the bright aisles of the grocery
rooting around the crisper
for kale while Sheryl Crow

played overhead or slurred to
the manager about the lack
of fresh tarragon. In his bright, warm
kitchen with the snow piled

above the basement windows
in the winter months when the sun
would set at five PM, he pulled his face
from the steam of the pots,

wrinkled in an expression
of joy in the preparing things
that made sense, but the next morning,
he would wake to find it all there

untouched, gleaming on plates,
his night work, having appeared seemingly
from nowhere— from someone

who had the things he lacked in life:
expression, taste, inspiration,
love, the power
to wake up the next morning,

someone else.

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——

Inventors of Sadness Learn to Use What They Have the Wrong Ways

Bereft of injury, bad parenting, civil war,
death in the family, extreme phobias,
psychological trauma,
not convinced I was abducted in some field
in Iowa and told the golden truth of the world;

having side-stepped the factories of brutal
poverty; the Midwest; not attaching
the same part to the same part—

Tomorrow, bicycle’s maybe by the Spree,
having partaken of petting
the fat underbelly of a puppy,
living in a democracy of sorts

where the cherry trees
in Mauer Park blow their
leaves up pale and pink past

my window like eraser dust.
Everything reduced
to brightness. Nights blooming quietly,
Yvonne twisting in the sheets,
the moon safely nailed to sky.

And tonight the man across the courtyard
is playing the piano, slow, Chopin’s
Nocturne in C minor I think

and the wind touches the leaves
of the trees so softly
I barely hear them shake. Yes, no one knows
I am the Edison of my day,

dumpy in my chair by the window,
with only a few regrets, a lost love
or two for gears, that tonight
I have done it!

Can you hear the machine turning?

From almost no parts
at all: I have found a way to be unhappy.

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——

Frank Montesonti, former Tucsonian, through pluck, luck, and vigor, has published in journals such as Black Warrior Review, Poet Lore, AQR, Poems and Plays, DIAGRAM, 42 Opus, Drunken Boat, Lit, and Spork (issue 2.2) among many others. His chapbook A Civic Pageant is available through Black Lawrence Press. He lives in Los Angeles, California.