Wednesday, March 30, 2011

LUBBOCK ELEGY (for Billy Boy)

Texas is a great hot
hollow balloon here
in Lubbock, a swollen
membrane; lethargic & frustrated
with bluegrass underfoot;
breezy and indifferent
storms pass, they soak
& they electrify
the red clay earth;
bobbing here at the end
of its tether, about
to feel that crack
of thunder; about to feel
one pair of feet fall
on its back, forever
and be gone, say, day
after day, after tomorrow;
and shudder in its own
slow rumble of thunder;
and be gone

           Lubbock, Texas

  Lubbock Elegy by Lee Foust

Saturday, March 26, 2011

FIRES ON MONKEY ISLAND (an honest to goodness parable!)

Penguin Island was once
Monkey Island

but San Francisco is
too cold for monkeys

so they put up
heaters on Monkey island

but monkeys (being monkeys)
tipped them over

frequently creating
fires on Monkey Island

that's how Monkey Island became
Penguin Island

               San Francisco

Fire on Monkey Island by Lee Foust

Friday, March 18, 2011

Florence (For Debra Arlene Zeller)

Like a lover, spread
before me, unrelentingly
itself, indifferent to me
and all my bitter euphoria

in the rain, clouds seeded
with desire spent, desire
regained and that sad old fucker
full in the sky, over my shoulder
            followed me home

—then, when the smoke cleared—

An habitué of years
of lonely Florentine nights
I pissed on the Fortezza
walked along the Mugnone
invisible as Calandrino
—no heliotrope in my pockets—
writing text messages as your train
lurched towards the Apennines, the Alps

and I found your scent
            in my room:
It was like coming
            face to face
with my own ghost.

I named her Florence.


Florence by Lee Foust

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


Broken bones. Broken bones and banks.

Streets long and narrow with poverty and spit. Spit spat up outta sore summer throats. Fever under a blackened sun. Perched on a porch in a plaster cast. Tequila—and broken bones.

Broken bones. Broken bones and banks.

Don’t have a dime—or belief in. Fever. Sneezing up a sore summer throat. You want to scream through the broken glass feels like your throat. Spit on your hands. Plaster, poverty, and penalty.

Broken bones. Broken bones and banks.

Cities buried in ash. A TV Pope and the clown of Tangentopoli sing “padania” for fun and profit. Oh, he’s alive all right and spewing ash over a culture that gets in the way of his bank breaking, cash. Hands up! They break your bones in the back; you spit on the streets. You’re afraid to talk through your shattered throat. Shoved down our. Fever-blackened sky. In plaster casts, centuries pass, still huddled by the sea, covering our faces with plaster hands.

Broken bones. Broken bones and the beat of the waves.

Waiting to escape. An ash-blackened sky tears at our eyes, tears at our throats, tears at our hands. Your breath turns black, your back turns blue; beaten, despised, when the racists bank on a government backed by bankers.

Broken bones. Broken bones in ash.

Your sweat dries in the plaster cast.


Pompei on the Po by Lee Foust

Sunday, March 13, 2011


Frankenstein's Monster

I would have you back, false desire! Impetuous thought, rash child, I would have you back in the grave of my imagination, spirit of revenge, composed out of decomposition, abandoned by god and despised by humankind, in all of the horror of your perfection, the Medusan power of your hideous beauty, the monstrosity of wishing for my own suicide to swallow everyone whom I have ever loved into its frozen and orphaned belly. I would have you and have you back.



For and against, at the same time, behind, in the crush, how meaning disdice anche, resigning oneself to one sign precludes the following, introduces the thought past, drags you backwards towards an origin: I will not contradict, with a paradox, that which I never signed in the first place since anything goes, from one word to the next, since signing takes pleasure not in the erasure but in the palimpsest, the mind's tabula conglomerata, in which even a poem takes heart, from line to line, revealing and correcting its course, a series or statements—no retraction possible—each gesture smoothing and crimping the matter at hand, slipping through the poet's fingers; that sieve, the page, in time, accepting meaning, lionizing meaning, then contradicting and burying meaning until the signing is all said and done and demands re-reading—only to surrender, eventually, to interpretation. That's when it comes to unnatural life.

                                               I have turned you to stone, my desire, I have refused to speak of you, well aware that your song is a kind of prayer and that the gods have no more restrictions to enchain me regarding your breathing.



The signing is in the air, poisoning the journey, stopping time, beautiful, beautiful. My appetite for lust, for singing, for oblivion is in the song of signs, the call of the island the journeyer home never could find; my disappointing nostos, the curse of surviving beyond the song.


Thursday, March 10, 2011


Foraging beneath that layer of dark
mysterious leaves my life has become
for me, an unrecognizable series
of encounters, places, dutiful acts
—a question, mainly, of scheduling—i find
the rich soil of my own imagination,
the mulch of my refusal, my Bartleby-
face, a kind of pitiful liberty
staring obliquely back at me
and wonder if others are able to see
the ironic smile that some priest or other, some
secular undertaker perhaps, had thought
to have buried forever,
                                    torn asunder.


Sunday, March 6, 2011


Salvami, Mercurio, dio dei ladri!
portami via dal cubicolo cupo, cella bellica di tutte le istituzioni;
il matrimonio, le legge, lo stato e le chiese.
Voglio pregare al viaggio sconosciuto del dio alato,
ai misteri più profondi di Nyx,
Morfeo e'l fratello Athos, all'oblio
del passo fra qui e l'aldilà, a tutti
i posti ancora da scoprire, la certezza
che, una volta acquistata, ci rovina.

                                      Ci rovina
la certezza: paura della morte e delle tasse.

Sono partito di casa stamane
come un corsaro: meta sconosciuta,
saccheggio imminente.


L'Angela della morte (Melodramma)

(L'Angela, Fiorentina, tradisce la sua Giusy e Giusy, una Tedesca che abita a Firenze, piange queste parole di dolore e di giustizia.)

La mia vita avvelenata
—my prostitute-face—scheggiata
dal pappone, l'acido
che mi'ai buttato nel viso
                    —penetrato nelle ossa—
mi brucia nell'anima e mi brucerà
ancor. Meine seele brennt (!)

and the hole torn in my soul
spits back at all this Florentine bourgeois silence:
                    mentre l'omertà sussurra
                    fra le labbra dei serpenti
la mia faccia di Medusa
—più bella del bronzo scolorato—
                    crea pietra:
intaglio la verità della tua perfida
fica in pietra.