—Sorry, We’re Open!
The young lady is served ribollita
with a fresh chunk of bread and a question:
What is it you prefer about a man—
his propensity to cheat—or to kill?
The young lady is perplexed—first time here—
stares at her soup, steps on her boyfriend’s boot,
knocks a can off the counter. Young lady,
please don’t be upset. We are all friends here.
Whatever you say, please—say it in Greek.
Or Italian. Or even English. Think:
here we are on the brink of disaster
and only you— your answer—can save us.
She thinks. She says, “I don’t care for either.”
Her boyfriend smiles. She smiles. Emilio
smiles—like Socrates in the Agora:
Ah, good! So then: ta chrimata paidi mou.
In this Dark World and Wide
He lived inside his head; his lust
lay with books. He read, he wrote.
(Some of his works are mind-numbing.)
He’ll go blind, they said, you watch.
And they were right. One poor eye patched,
one weeping, there was no doubt—
(though he didn’t see it coming)—
that paradise was lost.
And going blind he made a list
of every angel God let
out of heaven—his mind combing
Lucifer’s by feel, by touch.
The dark night of the soul. The match.
The smoldering intellect
smoking out free will. That humming
in the wings? His wife. The last.
John Perrault is author of Jefferson’s Dream (Hobblebush Books), Here Comes the Old Man Now (Oyster River), and Ballad of Louis Wagner (Peter Randall). A Pushcart Nominee, John has published in Beltway Poetry Quarterly, Blue Unicorn, Christian Science Monitor, Comstock Review, Poet Lore and elsewhere. John is a former Portsmouth, NH poet laureate. His chapbook, Season of Shagginess, has just been published by Finishing Line Press. www.johnperrault.com