Anthony DiMatteo’s third poetry collection Secret Offices is just out (Kelsay Books). Why secret? One can’t take credit, he says, for achieving an office dedicated to the pursuit of beauty and fairness as a poet must be. No one knows what one is doing in such a search, a prerequisite for going on. His previous collection In Defense of Puppets explored the way we imagine things when we speak for others or they for us. A recent chapbook Fishing for Family charted the experience of language from infancy to senescence.
Exorcism in White
Down the snowy path where no one walks,
where birds pause, tilting their heads,
branches make shadows like hands.
To me, you are one who lets no one see,
even as we dined and laughed.
The heart you shield is lonely but not like
a winter’s path, more like a river
drawing you out to an impatient sea.
A scream is still a scream though no one
else is there to hear it. When we shook hands
you were not there to receive my hand
where one must be to be truly greeted.
Now your absence no longer shakes in me.
And the long white path ahead is free.
On The Fringe
In the Florida back country, a marsh
filled in, cages for lions and tigers
and even ligers, round which peer
long bearded men and long skirted
women of the Amish kin. Their eyes
flicker with a wild delight their God
lives within. They pronounce these creatures
proof of his goodness, glory of his world.
But who dare tame a lion with a Bible?
The circus whip makes him jump through hoops
for the time being. Always on the fringe
of a moment’s notice, the blood lust can flare
in playful frenzy – and that’s all that it would be –
said once upon a time to pull down Babel.
(Albright Grove, Tennessee)
After a long walk in slanted light,
sudden clearing, names on stones,
McCarter, Williams, Cannupp,
hundreds of years old, and a tall
chimney abandoned by its house.
Fallen barn and milk box near a spring,
timbers caved in, bear scat everywhere,
a muskrat, then coon take off, steps
scuffling down the last bit of pavement.
Back up the trail, one’s head begins to reel –
half buried in the ground, an old car
now a tenement for grub and snake.
At last on the ridge ahead, arrival –
ancient grove of tulip trees, from on high
petals spinning down yellow and green,
confetti for man’s passing away.
They stand there over a basket of thatch
stuffed with the bric-a-brac of last summer.
Discarded toys are so sad, but they’ll have
none of that, crisp in their rulings
of what has to go and what – if anything –
will remain. “I don’t play with that anymore,”
the six-year old says to the seven, proud
to have advanced past the gold and green truck
with “Earl’s Fixin’s” emblazed on it, once
a favorite at the beach. Its two sides lift
to show a wild mosaic of plastic muffins,
cookies, candies and coffee jugs
to feed a crew in red and white helmets
assembling a blue bridge now too
hurled into the garbage can, once,
for hours, objects of fascinated play.
They’re on to bigger and better things
though still they linger here and there
upon what was an earlier love affair
with a revolutionary fife and drum corps.
Would the toys of yesteryear become
the friends of future times, loved
but discarded when damaged by pride,
envy or boredom? Will they measure
progress by a drum roll of pleasures
marching them off to lonely malls?
Does the hand of death too pluck
and haul us out of our stuffed basket
of days when it wearies with our lives?
Such questions we might deem over their heads.
And these two we love just as they are
(as I once was), happy, carefree boys.