Good poetry is coming
to the point quickly is not
allowing your reader
time to think is making monkey
out of senses is sky with
pepper ducks is stench
of scorpion beetles rocking
on their backs is warthog
singing the blues is mother’s
cooking going well
for once is your reader
suddenly slapping forehead
with hand and saying
damn that is exactly how I feel.
For forty-eight years my father
matched his luck with SuperEnalotto.
Tuesdays and Fridays he prepared
His eyes would close in concentration
to receive divine help
behind steepled hands.
One day, he loved to say,
I’ll make my bed on Italian liras.
What he wouldn’t say was he hated
minding cars in a gas station
instead of criminals in a courtroom.
Even now cathetered to
a hospital bed, he pleaded me
to play his numbers for him.
You’ll see, he whispered
as if I was his alibi in murder,
this time I’m going to win,
then you can go back to college.
I turned away in sudden pain.
That was something I’d never do
even for a million gold bars.
Next day I played his card
and waited for the evening draw.
Afterwards I thanked God
that the room he shared with
six mutating patients
was spared of television,
that hospitals close early to visitors.
Next morning one of the nurses
confessed over the phone
that my father had succumbed to sleep.
With caught regret, I feared
he already knew how Saturday night ended.
Here violence smirks from street corners,
sneaks upon you everyday like vipers:
family massacres by drug addicts, gang rapes,
shooting friends over a couple of beers –
the media presents it so coyly.
Like forbidden fruit.
* * *
She rises from bed, squats beside the daily wash
with gnarled hands. A baby wails from a distance.
But she dares not stop it. Her husband would beat her
for interrupting. Better it than her. It knows
nothing yet about sex or violence. Her hands scrub harder.
They feel dirty under all the suds.
But how it wails!
by Arlene Ang (c)2003
([email]aumelesi [at] libero [dot] it[/email])
[b]Author’s Note:[/b] [b]Manila, 1997[/b] was previously published in Perihelion (Premier Issue, June 1998).
[b]Bio:[/b] Arlene Ang lives in Venice, Italy as a freelance translator and web designer. She also edits the Italian Niederngasse. Her poetry has recently appeared in Poet’s Canvas, Scrivener’s Pen, Eclectica, Tryst and tree candles. Recent awards include: Absinthe Literary Review 2002 Eros & Thanatos Prize Winner and Clean Sheets 2003 Poetry Contest 2nd Place Winner. She is the featured writer in the May 2003 issue of Epiphany Magazine.