Graffito Beholds a Sculpted Dionysus Head

By STEVE BARBARO

                                                                                    Archeological Museum, Napoli

     Beard-barnacled, chokingly-fixed, almost somehow stupid, yes,
almost like will itself pushed to the extreme of its own
absence, almost like presence perpetuated so as to obliterate

personhood’s merest increments—ah, but don’t
listen to even the soundest advice you are given, never, never, no,
Graffito is sure he hears the inert face telling him, yeah,

              forget pondering your person in light of pure practicalities,
and fuck letting any of the standard measures of modern
existence—money or fame, say, or so-called community, or (gasp 

         gasp) success—clutter the local, the cosmic
clatter of the single soul clanging the skin and organs
like a serpent-inebriated rat knocking itself through the hardly

    singular snake by whose throat one can find oneself
blissfully, and even sometimes askingly, well, OK,
encapsulated… Yet of Graffito, alas, the museum guard makes

                    no notice, let alone grabs or kicks, and toward the not-quite-forgotten
god’s countenance no other human eyes that day are much too, um,
zealous, and as years pass, Graffito’s wobbly, thumb-shaped

                   noggin comes to conjure Dionysus as like a kind of un-
digesting, rat-filled snake stretching itself no
less self-extendingly for being self-

           alienating, and into a not quite self-like
stack of selves in which Graffito stacks
himself but also is stacked and stacked…

Steve Barbaro has poems and fiction and criticism appearing in such venues as New American Writing, The Yale Review, Denver Quarterly, 3:AM Magazine, Web Conjunctions, Prelude, and DIAGRAM. More at stevebarbaro.com.

[Purchase Issue 14 here.]

Emily EverettGraffito Beholds a Sculpted Dionysus Head

Related Posts

Image of trees and buildings

The Amherst Bulletin (excerpts)

SOFIA BELIMOVA
After the rain, we get slices / of the grey and yellow world / which slip through the earnest bunches of acorns / in sheets of diffuse, papery light. / To the west of campus simple houses / propagate drifts of dust and applewood in the dusk. / Creaking floorboards in an upstairs room

poetry feature image

July 2019 Poetry Feature: J.J. Starr

J.J. STARR
I am, he said, and the multitudes fell back/Shapely spirit makes a sport of modifying bodies/As for our home, dog shit covered the carpets/She was my object, I could have held her like a stone/Kicked out or fled, who knows, she left for California/Made prodigal, her returning two months

image of field with poppies

Essential Summer Reads 2019

With July well underway, we've put together a list of transportive pieces that encapsulate the spirit of summer—the dust above the country roads, the coolness of the waterfronts, the anticipation of autumn, and of course, the sticky, melting sweetness of ice cream. Take a trip through space and time with these summery selections.