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Marc Vincenz & Gene Tanta

 

New Yorker's Dream of Asheville in Spaghetti

 

You cock that eyebrow again, so coquettishly.
You'd like to shoot me now, wouldn't you!
                               —Carol Novack, PICNIC

 

I

—who breaks down the shotgun and ambles
the gas-lit sidewalk nearest the ravine
where something like leopards soak up moonlight

I don’t give a sailmaker ounce, she explained

Say, what’s the score? The night sky might as well have been
a colony of bats or just a sky

Love, love or soy sauce...

Maybe there’s still big game out there
but an eggplant is what she fancies
roasted with goat cheese: 25 mins
—you know cookery books always have their timing wrong
besides, the cats are screaming for Purina—

not a single dormouse quivers under my breath

with a not-yet moon. Were there or were there not
turrets above the two women strolling
elbows hooked, shotgun broken
like some noble hunting party walking with a brisk step?

 

2

—be on the lookout, the slender one whispers to the
other slender one, barrel slung over her forearm for a leash

and the Ingles grocery mart sunken on all fours
poised for doggie-style to come back into fashion—
once a one-stop-shopping convenience, even though
tomatoes were always three cents too high
now empty-eyeing the main road, the bottles of liquor
mirrored in the bar’s window, crumpled newsprint
bumping like tumbleweed as the sun sets and
for a fistful of dollars the dreaming starts—

of foxes or a gang of elk or a giraffe see-saw, a trip of goats
for our sleeping children, the cats purr after they spill
the Purina all over the carpet

Messy paws, messy paws or more purring...

is that a tiger streak in the sinister twilight, dear? A drift
of wild boars nearly halves us. A parliament of owls eyeball
as they always eyeball, braced in stillness. Around the corner

Maybe there’s still big game out there:
an elk, a giraffe in hiding, even an albino squirrel in hibernation
Lola is weak at the knees, she’s never gripped a shotgun
and she shifts it palm to palm
trying to get a firm hold for when the bears come out

she would be satisfied with a can of peas. It is I

shiver of sharks swallowing what remains. Bring me
my minnows, bring me my radiating limelight

rippling off an albatross beak, bring me my et cetera
so I can seize this, like I seized you among the pussy willows
that sunny fall day when leaves unrolled
and spiders wove curlers in your hair. And don’t fret

maybe there’s still big game out there
running rings around rings, for the signposts’ creaking
and the gazillionaires who cracked, for the elephants with stubbed toes

and the forget-me-not antlers, for the arthropod and the
anthropoid and the trilobite and a hill of beans we never climbed

maybe, Lola, just pull the trigger, and that’s all

 

3

—perhaps it’s only those sylvan cats who know how it ends. Perhaps
the Siamese are still ravenous perking to the manmade
waterfall clotted with breezy herbs and fallow grasses. Perhaps big game
has moved indoors, right here, in this heart of clubs
as a consequence of a ghost wager. A euphemism rings cheapest
to the animal we go to sleep with

Lola embraces her animal shadow as she, the other slender she
in the street, crosshairs circum-
navigating, traces the wand through the atmosphere; she listens
for the barrel whoosh, the steel clunk in her head

And you know what she says as the firing pin pings
and the gun rattles, knocking her right back into the woods?

 

                                           —for Carol Novack

 

 

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