from Issue #2: Poetry by Floyd Salas (II)

Line drawing © Floyd Salas

Line drawing © Floyd Salas

*

Steve Nash, Homosexual Transient

Executed San Quentin gas chamber
August 21st 1959
for killing eleven men
and a little boy

This is about the killer who gets away
This is it from the viewpoint of the murderer

Dedicated to Tony Curtis and the Boston Strangler
and to Johnny Wiesmuller
and Jane
with thanks to Jack Micheline

“One could do worse
Than be a swinger of birches.”  Robert Frost

I am a big cat
six-four
long stringy body
with sloping shoulders and big hands
hands that hang down like small paddles
like balls of weight with big knuckles
big hands
I can spread around a basketball
knobby hands
from having to work all my life
in canneries
and on construction jobs
out on the farm picking grapes
or prunes
bussing dishes

I think I’d like to kill me a few guys
guys who think they’re tougher than me
because I take it like a girl
guys who live down where I do
in skidrow rooms with hotplates
in poolhalls
in the cafeterias late at night
guys who wear clothes they buy
from the Jew at the army-navy store
guys who don’t take too many baths either
and smell like the rooms I live in
faint reek of sweat
and wrinkled shirts

Sometimes I pick me up a kid down at a park
or in the front row of some shoot-me-up show
downtown
but mostly guys
It’s okay
unless they make fun of me
and if they do
I bust ‘um
and sometimes croak ‘um
I get ‘um alone and kill ‘um
I choke ‘um after I hit ‘um
when I hit ‘um with my big fists
swinging like sledgehammers
down at the end of my long arms
I knock ‘um dizzy
I knock ‘um cold
Then I choke ‘um to death
if I don’t kill ‘um with my big fists
for making fun of me

I’m an Okie
That’s what people think
But I’m really from Texas
Gawky kind of guy
bony face
high cheekbones
not good-lookin’
country kind of rube down on the streets
That’s what I look like
Black hair and dark-skinned
from a stain of Indian blood
back there

These sailors pick me up and then laugh at me
mock me
So I slug the guy in the back seat with me
right in the nose
knock him cold
Then I grab the yo-yo in the passenger seat up front
and strangle him
break his neck
while his buddy tries to keep from crashing
rolling off the end of the pier
jams on his brakes and throws open the door and tries to run
But I catch him with a smash to the side of the head
knock him out
throw him back in the car
and push it off the end of the pier
with all three yoyos in it
push it down into the black water
with a muffled splash
down down below
in the oily water
deep down in the oily water
out of sight in the black night
so that nobody will see it until daylight
at best
deep deep down
in the oily water

Then they are after me
Then I have to run
run from hotel room to hotel room
run everywhere I go
run from the guys in the gray clothes in the greyhound bus station
with grim faces
run when they chase me
run down a back alley
disappear into the darkness
stay close to the walls of the buildings
until I get to my room
a buck-fifty a night
run because I can’t hitchhike out
not even in the night time
with the black and white cop cars cruising around
run to the railroad yards and hop a freight
but it’s a passenger train
and they’re still looking for me
They know I did it and they’re out to get me
I’ll do anything
I’ll stay in the back
I’ll pay when the conductor comes
I’ll do anything

But a guy comes in
and he has a grim gray face and gray clothes
and sits down next to me in the club car
I stand up where I can get the jump on him
bust him down with one punch
or crack his neck

He looks up at me
and I see his white collar and black coat
when he asks who I am

“Who I am?” I say.  “You’re no priest!”
“Yes, I am,” he says.  “Look!”

And I turn to look and see
all three sailors looking at me
but younger
rosy-cheeked and blooming
They do not speak
They are as perfect and still
as in a coffin
but standing up
They are standing up
They are after me

“Confess!” the priest says.
“Confess?” I say.  “This is a trap!”
And I grab the priest by the collar
and smash him in the face
throw him out the back door
over the rail of the last car
and see him bounce off the tracks
and tumble down the embankment

Then I turn and smash into all three sailors
punch them around like bags
so fast they don’t even move
knock them all down
then jump off the back of the train
and sail feet first
down the embankment

It gives as I fall
gives under me
and I fall slowly
ride the edge down
like a wave crashing slowly on the sand

Then I run down some streets
and hop up onto a house
jump from rooftop to rooftop
as teams of cops
crisscross the streets under me
like commandos in a war movie
shooting up at me

I hear the bullets whine
They whine
because they can’t get me
They whine
but I get away
I see cops crawling over the rooftops behind me
gaining on me
They are gaining on me
I watch myself escape now
I am Floyd
standing down below in the streets
along the sidewalk
with all the others
watch as the six-four killer finally gets treed
treed in a tree four stories high
five six maybe

He climbs to the very top of the tree
bullets whizzing around him
calling his name
sound dying out with a hum
climbs climbs
to the very top of the tree
me expecting it to break
for him to fall down
and bounce on the ground
get captured or killed at least

The police all stand around and watch too
as he swings back and forth
back and forth
high above the rooftops
in a circle of sun
framed by the sun
the orange sun
sun the color of the setting sun
see him swinging back and forth
and back and forth
and back and forth
with great swooshes of wind
reaching almost head first
down to the rooftops
on one side
then back over
way down
on the other side
the same way
framed by the sunlight
glowing gold in the sunlight
haloed in ecstasy
swinging with freedom
beyond death
knowing he will never get caught
knowing they will never get him
knowing that he is freeeeee
freeeeeeeeeeeeeeee
freeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

*

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Floyd Salas is an award-winning and critically-acclaimed author of seven books, including the novels Tattoo the Wicked Cross, What Now My Love, Lay My Body on the Line and State of Emergency, the memoir Buffalo Nickel, and two books of poetry, Color of My Living Heart and, most recently, Love Bites: Poetry in Celebration of Dogs and Cats. Also an artist and sculptor, he was 2002-2003 Regent’s Lecturer at University of California, Berkeley, as well as staff writer for the NBC drama series Kingpin and the recipient of NEA, California Arts Council, Rockefeller Foundation and other fellowships and awards. Find out more about Floyd at his own website,  http://www.floydsalas.com

from Issue #2: Poetry by Floyd Salas (I)

Line drawing © Floyd Salas

Line drawing © Floyd Salas

*

The first three of Floyd Salas’ poems in Issue 2 – “Kids Born In ‘Thirty-One,” “A Lament on Original Sin” and “God and the City” – are presented as a special PDF to preserve their unique formatting. Click here to read them. Find out more about Floyd at his own website, www.floydsalas.com

*

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Floyd Salas is an award-winning and critically-acclaimed author of seven books, including the novels Tattoo the Wicked Cross, What Now My Love, Lay My Body on the Line and State of Emergency, the memoir Buffalo Nickel, and two books of poetry, Color of My Living Heart and, most recently, Love Bites: Poetry in Celebration of Dogs and Cats. Also an artist and sculptor, he was 2002-2003 Regent’s Lecturer at University of California, Berkeley, as well as staff writer for the NBC drama series Kingpin and the recipient of NEA, California Arts Council, Rockefeller Foundation and other fellowships and awards.  http://www.floydsalas.com

from Issue #2: Paolo Fabrizio Iacuzzi (III)

Photo (CC) Kitty Terwolbeck @ Flickr

Photo (CC) Kitty Terwolbeck @ Flickr

*

Paolo Fabrizio Iacuzzi’s poetry was translated from Italian into English by Theodore Ell. Scroll down to read “Il soldato Beslan” (“Beslan the soldier”) in both languages.

*

Il soldato Beslan

1.­­­­­
L­a strada a piedi da scuola fino a casa. Nel primo
giorno del liceo. La bicicletta la portiamo a mano.
La canna da donna e la rete arcobaleno sopra i raggi
d’acciaio. Siamo già amici ma in due ora siamo

compagni di banco. Tu giochi al pallone dopo la scuola
fino a tenere la “Commedia” testo e note in evidenza.
Rivedere la bicicletta che porta dal Corso alberato
alla Fortezza delle Armi. Ci confondono i morti.

2.
Tutto ci confonde la memoria. Siamo nell’Aldilà 
della stessa età. Figli dei padri. Padri dei nonni. Tutti
nonni dei figli. Siamo uno soltanto. Un solo grande
casco dagli occhi azzurri. Il nostro trofeo di guerra.

Stare sul giradischi Scusi lei mi ama o no? Riempire
la stanza di “In un grande magazzino una volta al mese”.
Poter essere ancora questa canzone degli anni settanta.
Anche se ora avanzi lento vestito da soldato Beslan

che tiene un bambino fra le braccia. Ha la testa rasata
ma ti somiglia. Abbi pietà della nostra vita diversa.
Mentre guardi e porgi il bambino verso noi. Potrebbe
essere noi. Essere qualunque bene entrato dentro

la vita condivisa. Soldato Beslan che presìdi la vita
per tenere l’adolescenza al di qua dal precipizio.
Per trovare insieme il grande salvataggio estremo.
Mentre tieni la bicicletta che se ne va da sola e pare una

bianca sposa. Se e quando si accompagna l’amicizia
all’altare. Capire perché si abbandonano gli amici
inattesi dentro l’orizzonte bucato. Se desideriamo
essere madri per gestire figli. La trincea del banco.

Dopo essere interrogati. Pile di libri e appunti sparsi.
Nell’angolo estremo della classe. Il solo superstite.
Lo stesso cuore due labbra un fegato due braccia
tengono il bambino implacato. Ora che sei diventato

il maestro impiegato. Insegni in una classe vuota.
La mente vuole ricreare la bici. Ma è diversa la vita.
I quadri chiedono pelle trasparente. La luce bianca
da filtrare. Un disco di Battisti per nostro Maggio cantare.

 3.
Nei pomeriggi di pioggia e di compiti dopo il primo
giorno. Per quale desiderio sei dentro quella foto
sui giornali del mondo? Sei ancora dentro il maestro
che volevi diventare? Senza frontiere. Senza famiglia

frugare dentro la Storia. Per credere inermi che sia
possibile ricordare. Per il male rosso e involontario
che abbiamo senza pensare. Se mettiamo il silenzio
ai sentimenti. Spalancati davanti all’eterno pensare

al tempo infinito. E ci troviamo a un passo dalla morte
impreparati. Eroi senza avere il tempo di scegliere
che cos’era necessario. Gregari nel gioco del pallone.
Scartare l’amore per scartare davanti all’avversario.

*

Beslan the soldier

1.
On foot from school the road home. On the first day
of high school. We take his bike by hand. The old lady
crossbar and the rainbow chain over the steel spokes.
Already we are friends but now we are truly

desk mates. You play football after school until
underlining Dante’s “Commedia” text and notes.
Seeing again the bike that carries you from the tree-
lined corso to the Army Fortress. The dead confuse us.

2.
Memory confuses everything within us. We are in the
Hereafter of the same age. Children of fathers. Fathers
of grandfathers. All grandfathers of sons. We are one
alone. A single great helmet with blue eyes. A war trophy.

Putting on the record player “Madam do you love me or not?”.
Filling the room with “In a big store once a month”.
It could be once again this same song from the seventies.
Even if you come forward dressed as Beslan the soldier

holding a child in his arms. He has a shaved head
but he looks like you. Have pity on our different life.
As you gaze and set the child down near to us.
He could be us. Whatever good entered into a shared

life. Beslan the soldier who watches over our life 
holding back adolescence on this side of the abyss.
Finding together the great extreme salvation. While you
hold on to the bike moving off by itself. A white bride. 

When and if friendship is accompanied to the altar.
Knowing why unexpected friends abandon each other
within the horizon full of holes. If we desire to become
mothers to bring up sons. The battle trench of that desk.

After the teacher’s questions. Piles of books and scattered
notes. In the far corner of the classroom. The lone
survivor. The same heart two lips a liver two arms hold
the anguished child. Now you have been employed

as a teacher. You teach in an empty classroom. The mind
hopes to remake that bike. But life is totally different.
The pictures ask for a transparent skin. A white light
to filter in. A disco of Battisti for our May singing.

3.
In the afternoons of rain and homework after living
the first day. Through what desire are you in that photo
in the world’s newspapers? Inside are you still the teacher
you wanted to become? Without borders. Without family

exploring through History. Believing defenceless
it’s possible to remember. For the red involuntary
evil we have without thinking. If we silence
our feelings. Spread out eternity thinking of infinite

time. Unready we find ourselves one step away
from death. Heroes without having time to choose
what was necessary. Playing ball supporting each other.
Dribbling around love as you dribble around another.

*

ABOUT THE POET

Paolo Fabrizio Iacuzzi was born in Pistoia, in western Tuscany, in 1961 and has lived in Florence since 1992. He has published four collections of poetry – Magnificat (1996), Jacquerie (2000), Patricidio [Parricide] (2005) and Rosso degli affetti [Red of affections] (2008) – which have increasingly focused on the frailty of the individual within violent cycles of history. Paolo has translated Frank O’Hara and Amiri Baraka (formerly LeRoi Jones) into Italian and has rediscovered and re-published numerous works of the poet Piero Bigongiari (1914-1997), whose archive he oversees. Paolo is Artistic Director of the Accademia Pistoiese del Ceppo, a literary academy in Pistoia, and chairs the Premio Letterario Internazionale Ceppo Pistoia, awarded since 1956. For information: www.paolofabrizioiacuzzi.it

from Issue #2: Poetry by Paolo Fabrizio Iacuzzi (II)

Photo (CC) Chris_Parfitt @ Flickr

Photo (CC) Chris_Parfitt @ Flickr

*

Paolo Fabrizio Iacuzzi’s poetry was translated from Italian into English by Theodore Ell. Scroll down to read selections from Atlante senza nome del giardino (Atlas of the Nameless Garden) in both languages.

*

Da Atlante senza nome del giardino

Io non posso dire quale giardino sia mio
o tuo. E in questo atlante senza nome
del giardino siamo forse già stati affidati
alle cure dei posteri. Ma io conosco il giardino

che mio padre teneva intatto con gli iris
ciascuno separato in gruppi blu e bianche
schiere. Quando levandosi uno a primavera
più giallo del sole. Nel bianco si sentiva

il fremito dell’età giovane. Ed io sire nell’oro
sfilavo fra i bianchi alfieri con gli elmetti.
Padre non estirpare da quella schiera l’iris
giallo. Non far sì che ciascuno sia tra sé

e sé intollerante. Lascia che io adorando
lo veda in uno stuolo beato fatto di brina.
Il giardino se fiorisce non ha male. Il tuo
bene fa sbocciare ora lo stelo dell’iris.

*

Iris come se piovesse. Una boscaglia di spade
di Toledo luccicanti. Iris che si stringono fra
l’erba che li infesta. Iris allineati uno accanto
all’altro come in un campo dove ci furono

i soldati a riposare nella morte. Corpi trafitti
da iris d’acqua di cenere di piombo. Come
tante lance mi persi un giorno in un ossario
azzurro chiaro. Come tante tibie fiorite erano

i compagni che stavano in campo di prigionia.
Allora mi appartavo dietro la casa nel garage
mentre ibridando per steli e steli e per semi
e semi. Volevo ottenere l’iris che fosse rosso

come la stella. E mescolando i geni e i gameti
e i pistilli. Io non ricordo più che cosa feci
per ridarvi un cuore rosso e palpitante. Io sì
ti ridetti vita campo dei miei compagni morti.

*

Gli iris per passare in pace. Saranno stati
diecimila con le bandiere color degli iris.
Come tanti guerrieri che in spalla non tenevano
fucili ma iris di sette colori. Così trapassando

nell’Aldilà vedremo le stesse scene di ora.
Solo che i fiori si sprecheranno. Ma io non so
se coltivando iris dovunque. In conche
bidoni vasche tu volessi rendere omaggio

alla madre che in cielo ti vedeva. Quando
in una cosmogonia precoce rendevi grazie
ad Iside. Era il nome di tua madre. Ma piantando
gli iris forse tu volevi ritrovare il suo corpo

disperso. Iris gialli il fegato. Iris d’arancio
il pancreas. Iris blu i polmoni. Iris verdi le vene.
Iris viola le labbra. Iris d’indaco i suoi occhi.
Padre padre padre nel giardino innamorato.

***

From Atlas of the nameless garden

I cannot tell any more which garden is mine
or yours. And in this atlas of the nameless
garden maybe we have already been entrusted
to the care of our descendents. But I know

the garden that my father held together
with irises each one separated into blue groups
and white ranks. When in spring one rose which
was more yellow than sunlight. In the whiteness

you felt the quiver of youth. I was sire in the gold
marching between the white helmeted ensigns.
Father do not uproot the golden iris from
that rank. Do not make each one intolerant

among its own kind. Let it be so that adoring
I see it in a blessed crowd. Made of frost.
If it flowers the garden holds no evil. Now
your good makes the stem of the iris blossom.

*

Irises as though it rained them. A wood of Toledo
swords glittering. Irises that crowd together
against the infesting grass. Irises lined up one
beside the other as in a field where soldiers

have rested in death. Bodies run through
by irises of water of ashes of lead. One day
as among so many lances I got lost in a clear
blue ossuary. As so many flowering shinbones

were the dear friends in the prison camp. So I
withdrew behind my house into the garage while
crossbreeding stem by stem and seed by seed.
I wanted to make the iris that was as deeply red

as the star. And mixing the genes and the gametes
and the pistils. I no longer remember what I did
to give you back a red and beating heart. I really did
restore you to life. Field of my dead dear friends.

*

Irises to pass in peace. They would have been
ten thousand with the flag the colour of irises.
Like so many warriors who shouldered not rifles
but irises in seven colours. As we pass into

the Hereafter we shall see the very same scenes.
Only the flowers will be wasted. But I don’t
know if planting irises everywhere. In pots tubs
tanks you wanted to pay tribute to your mother

who watched you from heaven. When in an early
cosmogony you paid homage to the goddess Isis.
It was your mother’s name. But in planting irises
maybe you hoped to rediscover her body lost

among them. Yellow irises liver. Orange irises
pancreas. Blue irises lungs. Green irises veins.
Violet irises lips. Indigo irises her eyes.
Father father father in the garden in love.

*

ABOUT THE POET

Paolo Fabrizio Iacuzzi was born in Pistoia, in western Tuscany, in 1961 and has lived in Florence since 1992. He has published four collections of poetry – Magnificat (1996), Jacquerie (2000), Patricidio [Parricide] (2005) and Rosso degli affetti [Red of affections] (2008) – which have increasingly focused on the frailty of the individual within violent cycles of history. Paolo has translated Frank O’Hara and Amiri Baraka (formerly LeRoi Jones) into Italian and has rediscovered and re-published numerous works of the poet Piero Bigongiari (1914-1997), whose archive he oversees. Paolo is Artistic Director of the Accademia Pistoiese del Ceppo, a literary academy in Pistoia, and chairs the Premio Letterario Internazionale Ceppo Pistoia, awarded since 1956. For information: www.paolofabrizioiacuzzi.it

from Issue #2: Poetry by Paolo Fabrizio Iacuzzi (I)

Photo (CC) Anthony Quintano @ Flickr

Photo (CC) Anthony Quintano @ Flickr

*

“Patricidio a New York” (“Parricide in New York”) was translated from Italian into English by Theodore Ell. Scroll down to read the poem in both languages.

*

Patricidio a New York

Io non so cosa cadde quel giorno dalle Torri Gemelle
dentro me. Avevo appena ricevuto i risultati e quando
caddero le Torri ero già caduto nelle cartelle delle analisi.
Così seppi che c’era oltre di me un altro che cadeva
cadeva come i coriandoli a Carnevale. Da un carro
altissimo. Quando avrò il funerale voglio salire
su un carro. Sbriciolarmi sui passanti. Sentire
le urla di chi vuol restare intangibile. Io non so
se quel giorno davanti alla tivu ho pianto più
per me o per i mille coriandoli che vedevo cadere
giù. Cadevano i progetti e i sogni. Da allora
vivo murato nel mio silenzio. Il canto è finito
per sempre. Con quale parola può rimare il dolore.
Con quale speranza si aprono gli occhi. Io non so
cosa cadde quel giorno né chi. Di sicuro dovetti
sbiancare di fronte al dottore. Un giovane mite
nel camice bianco. Si-può-curare. Ma come si può
curare l’adolescenza mai cresciuta ed il desiderio
di gettarsi nelle braccia di tutto il mondo. Non ricordo
altro dell’11 settembre tranne il rumore lontano
delle edizioni speciali del tg. E un senso di pace
come quando la nave affonda col carico di umanità
che possedeva. Il canto non ci salverà. Ma finirà
un giorno la strage che è diventato il mio cuore.

*

Parricide in New York

I don’t know what fell from the Twin Towers on that day
inside me. I had just received the results and when the Towers fell
I had already fallen into the sheets of analysis. Thus I knew
that beyond me there was another who fell down
like confetti at Carnevale. From a big high
wagon. When my funeral comes I want to rise
on to a wagon. Scatter myself on those passing. Hear
the screams of those who wish to stay untouchable. On that day
I don’t know if in front of the TV I cried more for myself
or for the thousands of confetti I saw falling
down. Plans and dreams fell. Since then
I have lived walled up in my silence. The poem
has finished forever. What word can rhyme with pain.
What hope can still open eyes. I don’t know on that day
what fell nor who. Certainly I must have turned pale
in front of the doctor. A kind young man in a white coat.
It-can-be-treated. But how does one cure an adolescence
that never grew up and the desire to throw oneself
into the arms of the world. I remember nothing else
of the 11th of September except the distant sound
of the special editions of the news. And a sense of peace
as when a boat goes down with the big cargo of humanity
it carried. The poem will not save us. But that day
will end the carnage that has become my heart.

*

ABOUT THE POET

Paolo Fabrizio Iacuzzi was born in Pistoia, in western Tuscany, in 1961 and has lived in Florence since 1992. He has published four collections of poetry – Magnificat (1996), Jacquerie (2000), Patricidio [Parricide] (2005) and Rosso degli affetti [Red of affections] (2008) – which have increasingly focused on the frailty of the individual within violent cycles of history. Paolo has translated Frank O’Hara and Amiri Baraka (formerly LeRoi Jones) into Italian and has rediscovered and re-published numerous works of the poet Piero Bigongiari (1914-1997), whose archive he oversees. Paolo is Artistic Director of the Accademia Pistoiese del Ceppo, a literary academy in Pistoia, and chairs the Premio Letterario Internazionale Ceppo Pistoia, awarded since 1956. For information: www.paolofabrizioiacuzzi.it