Modernato Pizzicato

By JOHN MATTHIAS

 

O Lynx keep watch on my fire he had written in Pisa
and Dryad he’d called her a long time back and she
thought the new subtlety of eyes was probably hers
dove sta memoria when she read it in his prison poems
in her Künsnacht sanatorium . . .

          E.P. loves H.D.—it could
have been encircled with a heart, carved by a couple of kids
on a tree. From the wreckage of Europe they groped their way
toward what they remembered and loved.
And at Künsnacht that clinic was fine for filming
a bust: Dick and Nicole at Dr. Brunner’s healing-place,
Scott loves Zelda carved by actors on the widest conifer.
Pound had put a eucalyptus seed in his coat when
the Partisans marched him away from hills above Rapallo.
It had the face of a cat: O Lynx keep watch on my fire.
And she was herself a feline, an eidolon Helen to boot.
As Freud’s analysand she watched the local extras in halls,
a rich girl taking the talking cure talking and talking. Change
the movie to Borderline and she is the star, a demi-monde
neurotic with her dipsomaniac beau. Who knows why
they’re here? Or Jason Robards and Jennifer Jones who
drive each other’s Dick & Nic around town; Jill St. John
is no San Juan with a belly ache writing ad posternos,
but she squeaks like a ditsy mouse and shows her pointy tits.

What all fits this case? A pretty face, of course,
a march to the line, a dance to the rhythm, the time.
Rhyme it with mime and bring in the rest of the cast:
Tom and Viv, Gertrude and Alice, Nora and Jim –
Billyam Williams and Freytag-Loringhaven the mad.
Ulysses loves Penelope they carve on yet another tree.
Helen’s at the door of Dr. Brunner; Paris is a patent fiction
she complains. Let’s to Lake Geneva for a sail. P. Pudovkin
writes in Close-up, Bryer’s cinema mag, regarding the art
of the cut, but who has the knife any more or the nail?
It’s closing time at the jail, the privileged asylum,
contagious hospital, letterpress printer’s, the ruined town.
Close up the closet of cut-up text & cut out hearts & heroes
cut down to size. Some guy on TV is singing pizzicato lies.
Someone’s baby sits right down and cries.

 

John Matthias is poetry editor of Notre Dame Review.

Click here to purchase Issue 01

Modernato Pizzicato

Related Posts

Water spray

October 2020 Poetry Feature: Lusa-American Poets

CAROLYN SILVEIRA
In Portugal, they were gifting traditional / dogs to goatherds who had lost / their way. My father was no / goatherd. My father, far away / in California had nightmares / about blackberries: They rose early to pick him / clucking in Portuguese, which he could not,/ would not understand.

Brazilian Poets in Translation

ELIANE MARQUES
Don’t carry large umbrellas (neither at night nor during the day) / They might seem to be an AR-15 rifle or an HK submachine gun / Don’t use drills / They can be confused with a pistol and the bullets being fired / Don’t carry bags / They can suggest that you’re carrying a bomb

poetry feature image

October 2020 Poetry Feature: JinJin Xu

JINJIN XU
And another alights on the sidewalk, / another alights, I step around their outlines / into our next life - om mani padme hum / you emerge from the red dawn to shake open my life, / upside down, flying dust, you unlock / the red cell, cameras light up one by one