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Joe Amato

Two poems

36 theory bananas                     (for every bear that ever there was)

monstrate my nixon
if we blow your cork
to be ripe beyond blue

ink, than without fork
eating one's business
like a duke, or dork

when it's diction at's afoot
at's what we scops stick it to
twixt root & root, maybe

some quorum, or disaster
you'll yet have no loot
nor guy nor gal

to wait upon us after
offhand nor on foot
& the lines will be shorter, yea

we have no longer
among such politics lawless
as fried or unfried sausage

if'n they're for nix
let 'em see for naught
the stracotto of hajj

the rom & crunch of amazon, tossed
whoopee cushions against remote'd shores
for it's hijinks for hijacks today

bumper crops for bumper cars mañana
& the lines will be stronger, yea
we have no shorter

so net all comers as ye may
zingers queued in our fax
wonk out some hind-end

bestride poor window sills
on bobsleds full of spiel:  we also
serve lists, who lurk by servers

& switching of late
crib to let pitter-patter wrench
what gudgeons steel as fate

(this evening)

Old sorrows settle down, this morning
the sun warm as ever, had grown somehow
a more distant approximation
while afternoon heat provoked
end of day, or was it the end
of sun itself? And now the little stretch of suburb life
has seen fit to place before the observer -
nor penniless, nor without friends, nor
without a companion, and never without
hope - the prospect that it is the evening
that must now be embraced. And this morning
myopic, the cliché of mirror
reflected - not nightfall, not night even
but evening, awakening's surplus second.

Let us imagine that evening company will arrive, talking
will mull the varied certainties of acquaintance
and conviviality, a discourse full of
itself. That our observer, among such literate guests
but at one remove, will begin to fancy the latest Wally
and Bob tête-à-tête, with Sylvia as arbiter
of ennui and Lenny the stand-up source of raw
material (and of course, just the right touch of ethnic
sublime). No doubt some salonnier's idea of hog
heaven, where our observer seeks a middle ground
but in every locution hears only a variation on parlor torture
or possibly, tonsure
in the offing, looming as secular dispensation. The distinguished
majority is just a tad too enamored of their postwar
cuticles to obscure a precise fear
that the future is failing collective aspiration. If it's not
the rhetoric that struggles here, exactly, it may be the straight white
teeth. Sporting which, our observer contemplates a maternal
genome sufficient to guaranteeing a healthy crop
with lustrous body, which testable fiction intervenes
metabolically, as it were, halting more inspired
and possibly, perspired
processing to lead out of the rather small, wall-to-wall living
room for a breath of fresh air, relief from the
buzz, and a mosquito bite or two.

A few moments later your companion
joins you, speechless, the steady human
murmur inside rising and falling like
topography, punctuated by the occasional
howl. Your fingers come together
as your eyes trace the great comedic arc from star
to streetlight, both of you connecting the dots not unlike poor
Paradise, who in his time located a manuscript of the night
that defied articulation. And in your shared locus persist
these terrestrial measures . . .

:  however indisposed of late, these heavens would bear
down on all of us, would stand us before truer counsel
this evening, the deadpan calculus of finites.

photo of Joe Amato

Joe Amato

Joe Amato is the author of Symptoms of a Finer Age (Viet Nam Generation, 1994, available through SPD); and Bookend: Anatomies of a Virtual Self (SUNY Press, 1997). "(this evening)" and "36 theory bananas" are from his most recent project, Lake Affect: Dated Material. He may be contacted at, and his online work is available at

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